EDA, in big win for the hungry and restaurants, awards $14M in grants

Sustain & Serve program gives money to nonprofits, which will buy meals from restaurants and give them to those in need

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority announced Thursday that it is awarding $14 million in grants to 27 organizations through its Sustain & Serve N.J. program — a unique initiative that will bring much-needed relief to the restaurant industry and much-needed meals to the hungry.

The program provides grants ranging between $100,000 and $2 million to nonprofits — which will then use the money to purchase meals from area restaurants that will be given to those in need for free.

The EDA anticipates that the funding will result in the purchase of 1.5 million meals from at least 160 New Jersey restaurants, in at least 69 cities in 12 counties. In addition, EDA officials said they are completing reviews of additional applicants and may provide additional awards in the near future.

The program appears to truly be a win-win, Gov. Phil Murphy said.

“New Jersey’s restaurants were hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the outpouring of interest in Sustain & Serve N.J. underscores the community’s desire to help local restaurants and the neighborhoods they serve,” he said. “The positive economic impact of this program for the restaurant industry, combined with the good it will do in the community, makes Sustain & Serve N.J. a home run.”

The EDA announced Sustain & Serve N.J. in December as a $2 million pilot program. However, due to the enormous interest from organizations and restaurants throughout the state, the EDA anticipates dedicating an additional $12.4 million in CARES Act monies to fund all eligible applications.

Organizations were selected based on their history of purchasing and providing food — and their grant was determined by that history. Six were awarded $1 million or more.

Here’s the list:

  • FeedNJ (Hightstown): $2 million;
  • Holy Name Medical Center Foundation (Teaneck): $2 million;
  • Newark Working Kitchens (Newark): $2 million;
  • New Jersey Farmers Cooperative (Cape May): $1.5 million;
  • Fulfill (Neptune): $1.34 million;
  • HealthBarn (Ridgewood): $1 million;
  • Luke’s Church (Montclair): $666,750;
  • Front Line Appreciation Group (Chatham): $360,000;
  • Chef Lou’s Army (Pine Beach): $250,000;
  • Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (Trenton): $216,000;
  • Front Line Appreciation (Short Hills): $200,000;
  • A Need We Feed (Toms River): $195,000;
  • Our Community Dinner Table (South Hackensack): $175,000;
  • The Summit Foundation (Summit): $171,000;
  • Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy (Livingston): $150,000;
  • Share My Meals (Princeton): $132,000;
  • Meals on Wheels Mercer County (Ewing): $126,000;
  • Asbury Park Dinner Table (Asbury Park): $108,000;
  • AtlantiCare Foundation (Egg Harbor): $100,000;
  • City of Jersey City (Jersey City): $100,000;
  • Coalition for Food and Health Equity (Jersey City): $100,000;
  • Elizabeth Education (Elizabeth): $100,000;
  • FLAG for Cranford (Cranford): $100,000;
  • Rescue Mission of Trenton (Trenton): $100,000;
  • The Cliffside Park Hall of Fame Foundation (Cliffside Park): $100,000;
  • Foundation for University Hospital (Newark): $100,000.

EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said the program will be a big boost for the economy while helping those in most need.

“New Jersey’s restaurants are paramount to our state’s economy and Gov. Murphy has made bolstering this industry a focal point of our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “The tremendous response to our Sustain & Serve N.J. program showcases the eagerness from organizations statewide to support local establishments within their communities.”

The recipients immediately expressed their gratitude:

Our Community Dinner Table is a food crisis relief organization based in Palisades Park that was established in the wake of COVID-19 to provide well-rounded meals to the community while also supporting local restaurants. The organization has focused on purchasing meals from restaurants that rely on sit-down customers and/or catering events.

“The economic downfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted families and local businesses all across the country, and neighborhoods in northern New Jersey are certainly not immune from this devastation,” founder Samuel Chong said. “The Sustain & Serve N.J. program will allow us to simultaneously broaden our reach while continuing to support restaurants in our area that are reflective of the diversity of our community.”

The AtlantiCare Foundation was founded in 1977 to generate significant charitable support to ensure AtlantiCare’s vision of building healthy communities within southeastern New Jersey. AtlantiCare is based in Atlantic City.

“The concept of Sustain & Serve N.J. and its ability for organizations like ours to impact our local community while purchasing meals from local restaurants is brilliant. It aligns perfectly with our mission,” AtlantiCare Foundation Executive Director Samantha Kiley said. “This program is a wonderful way for our organization to give back to local establishments that so generously supported our frontline teams throughout the pandemic. It also addresses the broad economic impact COVID has had on our community.”