Newark Working Kitchens, the free meal delivery service launched in April to create jobs and assist city residents facing food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has delivered more than 200,000 meals during its first 12 weeks, the city announced.
Mayor Ras Baraka said in a news release that NWK operations have sustained more than 200 jobs during the pandemic, as each participating restaurant provides 200 meals per day, five days a week. In addition, 24 NWK restaurants have relaunched operations and rehired more than 200 total staff members, NWK noted.
In addition, the city has launched a fundraising campaign aimed at bolstering the total to 1 million meals, as well as continuing to engage small businesses to provide assistance even after the pandemic.
“Newark Working Kitchens will be able to deliver tens of thousands of meals in the coming weeks, while supporting Newark’s talented array of small business entrepreneurs heavily impacted by the events of 2020,” Baraka said in a prepared statement. “Our local restaurants have been very hard-hit, and funding NWK allows restaurant employees to return to work and cook for Newark residents in urgent need.”
The city has provided a $500,000 grant that builds on the support from area companies, including Audible, TD Bank, Fidelco Realty Group and Thrive Global. New donations total more than $3 million, also including $350,000 from Public Service Enterprise Group and $200,000 from New Jersey Devils owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer and the Devils Care Foundation.
The latest donations will fund 320,000 meals.
“Newark Working Kitchens has proven out a model that can be deployed to many sectors of an economy unequally impacted by COVID-related shocks,” Audible founder and Executive Chairman Don Katz said in a statement. “The commercial food economy in Newark is composed of a rich tapestry of small restaurants and food service companies that employ many people who need support as we face this historic crisis.”
NWK is seeking additional donors to invest in the program and fund meals in the coming months. Click here for more information.
The meals are prepared by local restaurants and delivered to low-income senior, disabled and family housing residents, the homeless and other vulnerable populations. Deliveries reach nearly 10,000 city residents across 40 locations.
“We are proud to be uniting forces so that NWK can be a major food hub for our Newark community,” Marcus Samuelsson, participating chef/owner of Marcus B&P and owner of the Marcus Samuelsson Group, said in a statement. “Newark Working Kitchens harnesses the full power of our abilities to combat food insecurity during this extraordinary time of need.”
In April, NWK also launched the Newark Small Business Guidance Program, in collaboration with Newark Venture Partners and Invest Newark, which has so far helped nearly 100 small businesses with legal, financial and other expertise. Those businesses include participating restaurants as well as Newark-based and Black-owned firms.