FeedNJ, a program designed to support restaurants hurt by pandemic-related restrictions and provide food to needy New Jerseyans, has now provided more than 300,000 meals, according the organization that administers the program.
The group, Soup Kitchen 411, also said it has provided $3 million to local restaurants. FeedNJ purchases meals prepared by more than 75 restaurant partners, then serves them at soup kitchens, food pantries, houses of worship and community events in over 40 towns and cities.
“When FeedNJ calls us to pre-order 300, 400, 500 meals at a time, that can make up for a huge chunk in the deficit of the past 19 months,” said Doug Schneider, owner of Tavern on George in New Brunswick, in a statement. “FeedNJ’s per meal price of $10 is more than enough to cover the ingredients and labor costs, and we are honored to have our meals served to people who need them,” Tavern on George often provides meals to the Elijah’s Promise Community Soup Kitchen in New Brunswick during regularly scheduled Monday and Wednesday servings for 500 clients.
“Soup Kitchen 411 has just hit the milestone of 300,000 meals provided free-of-charge across New Jersey, all the while supporting local restaurants, Gov. Phil Murpy said “This milestone serves as an astounding reminder of the tireless work of Soup Kitchen 411 and the impact of our Sustain and Serve program.”
Sustain and Serve is a state program that provides funding for groups to purchase restaurant meals and distribute them to those in need. In August, state officials said the program would get an additional $20 million in funding on top of $14 million that had previously been awarded. At the time, officials estimated about 3.5 million meals had been purchased from more than 350 restaurants during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Soup Kitchen 411 employs four part-time staff members and relies on individual and corporate donations to cover overhead, including website maintenance. Additional funding helps the organization purchase meals and maintain its Geolocation database connecting people to more than 250 tri-state area soup kitchens and food pantries.
Assemblyman Craig Coughlin, D-19th District, and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chairman Kevin O’Toole serve as co-chairs of FeedNJ.