Since the program launched in April 2020, Newark Working Kitchens said it’s delivered 1.2 million meals, reaching 10,000 residents across 70 locations.
Thanks to a $2 million grant from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, NWK is adding five more to its roster: Thai Tsa d’Paco, La Tienda Tapas, Queen Pizza and Sihana Café.
“For more than 18 months, Newark Working Kitchens has provided a vital lifeline to Newark’s restaurants and residents at a time of great uncertainty,” said Abhinav Mathur, senior vice president at Audible’s Global Center for Urban Development. “Another pandemic winter is approaching and thanks to the meaningful support of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, we’re going to be able to serve thousands of meals this holiday season and beyond. It’s crucial funding like this that allows NWK to continue its impactful work, and I urge donors of all sizes to consider supporting this program as the year comes to a close.”
The Global Center for Urban Development launched in September 2020 to expand the Newark-based company’s community and economic investments, and to institute scalable models to advance equity, racial justice and economic empowerment. In addition to NWK, it also supports Audible’s collaboration with Newark Venture Partners.
The program from Audible engages Brick City restaurants to deliver meals to low-income seniors and families. Not only sustaining residents through sustenance, but also helping to support the city’s local and family-run businesses.
On the menu
Newark Working Kitchen’s participating restaurants include
•9 Thai Cuisine •Andros Restaurant & Diner •Black Swan •Blueprint Café •Bulgogi Zip •Casa d’Paco •the Green Chicpea •City Rub Steak & Smokehouse •Cornbread Newark •Fresh Coast •Harvest Table •Kilkenny Alehouse •King’s #1 •La Cocina •La Tienda Tapas •Marcus B&P •McGovern’s Tavern •Mercato Tomato Pie/Novelty Burger •O’LaLa Empanadas •Panzz Seafood & Wings •Pita Square •Queen Pizza •Robert’s Pizza •Sigri Indian BBQ •Sihana Café •Vonda’s Kitchen •Uncle Willie’s Wings •Walla
According to NWK, more than half of its participating restaurants are minority- and women-owned.
The initiative also preserves jobs, numbering in the hundreds, NWK said, with a number of restaurants able to relaunch services and rehire staff.
“My restaurant and employees mean the world to me, but after the economic toll of the past two years, I was faced with the harsh reality of layoffs or even worse, shutting down completely,” said Casa D’Paco Owner Angel Leston. “By joining Newark Working Kitchens, I didn’t have to do either of those things. In fact, I can now confidently enter the holiday season knowing my business is afloat and my staff are securely employed.
“I am proud to be a part of this program and to have the opportunity to give back to a community that has long supported me and my restaurant,” he added.
Across the board, the Center collaborates with the City of Newark. For NWK, part of that is determining where meal delivery is needed, and then distributing the food. A growing list of tenants associations and community organizations includes Ironbound Community Corp., Bridges Outreach, FOCUS Hispanic Center for Community Development, Newark Emergency Services for Families, Palm Street Block Association, NJCRI/Crossroads Drop-in Center, Tree House Cares, Willing Heart Community Care Center and the YMCA.
The NJEDA funding is provided under the state’s Sustain and Serve program. As of August, state officials estimated the initiative had enabled participating nonprofits to purchase more than 3.5 million meals from over 350 restaurants statewide for residents in need.
State officials estimate that the Sustain and Serve New Jersey program has enabled nonprofits to use the previous $14 million of grants to buy over 3.5 million meals from more than 350 restaurants across the state during some of the worst times of the COVID-19 pandemic.