$1 MILLION FOR 100,000 MEALS: RIDGEWOOD, N.J. NONPROFIT & PARTNERS AWARDED STATE
GRANT TO AID RESTAURANTS, FIGHT FOOD INSECURITY IN BERGEN COUNTY DURING PANDEMIC
RIDGEWOOD, N.J., February 25, 2021 – On Thurs., Feb. 25th at 10:30 a.m. the HealthBarn Foundation, Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce, and participating local restaurants celebrated securing a $1M state grant to deliver 100,000 high-quality nutritiously balanced meals to Bergen County residents facing food insecurity at an alarming rate due to the pandemic. The entire grant will be used to support restaurants in Ridgewood’s Central Business District.
The grant was awarded through the unprecedented New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s [NJEDA] Sustain and Serve program announced today to fund nonprofits that enlist local restaurants to prepare and distribute ready-to-eat meals. Meals will be distributed on a weekly basis in Ridgewood to Ridgecrest Senior Housing, S.H.A.R.E. Senior Homes, Social Service Association of Ridgewood, West Bergen Mental Health, and to food pantries throughout Bergen County.
“This initiative represents the very best of our community. It has allowed us to tap into a collective spirit of collaboration, generosity, and empathy for the benefit of our businesses and our entire community. The pandemic has impacted many of us, particularly the food insecure and small businesses. We look forward to extending the good works to other communities in Bergen County,” said Bergen County Board of Commissioners Member Ramon Hache. “The silver lining is that the organizations that have long addressed the issue of food insecurity are finally receiving the awareness within the communities they faithfully serve.”
Commissioner Hache helped spearhead the partnership between HealthBarn and the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce’s “Feed the Frontlines” initiative in April 2020, helping qualify the Foundation for the NJEDA grant submission. The state’s grant program is designed as a two-pronged approach to help those most severely impacted by the pandemic: the food insecure and the local restaurant industry.
“Our nonprofit started in 2015 with just $5,000 to fund Healing Meals to gift nutritious meals for families with children undergoing cancer treatments at Tomorrows Children’s Fund at Hackensack University Medical Center,” said Stacey Antine, MS, RDN, Founder and Director of the HealthBarn Foundation. “Fast forward to 2020 when we pivoted in partnership with the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce’s to fund ‘Feed the Frontlines’ – raising over $100,000 through private donations going directly to local restaurants feeding 4,000 frontline workers and people in need,”
“It’s exhilarating when you get the opportunity to do what is needed to help others with a dynamic team of leaders and volunteers to ensure its success! This $1M grant from the state has enabled us to take gifting nutritious food to the next level by reaching over 100,000 neighbors in need in the County,” continued Antine.
The Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce was a driving force in developing the relationships needed between the nonprofit and local restaurants to meet the qualifications of the NJEDA grant.
“When we saw this program being developed and offered by the state, we knew HealthBarn’s mission and community outreach would get us to the front of the line of grant applicants,” said Scott Lief, President of the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce. “What is truly amazing is that we can blend Stacey’s leadership in feeding people with helping the restaurant community at a time that it is so desperately needed by people. It’s a classic win-win.”
Additional County leadership has joined the team including Tracy S. Zur, Vice-Chair of the Bergen County Board of Commissioners, who leads the Bergen County Food Security Task Force targeting specific food pantries in Bergen County along with Bergen Volunteers who will be providing transportation of meal deliveries. Door Dash also will be offering their professional drivers to the meal deliveries team.
For a list of participating Ridgewood restaurants, click here.
The NJEDA’s Sustain and Serve program provided up to $2M grants to nonprofit organizations to purchase meals from New Jersey-based restaurants that are struggling during the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. There are 27 awardees including HealthBarn Foundation approved for grants totaling $14 million. NJEDA expects grantees will be able to purchase more than 1.5 million meals from over 160 restaurants.
About the HealthBarn Foundation:
HealthBarn’s mission is to gift nutritious food through access and in conjunction with nutrition education to children, families and seniors for their health and happiness. There are currently three initiatives that are being funded with generous support from the public including Healing Meals (a nutritious food gifting program), Garden-to-Table Scholarships and School Nutrition.
Healing Meals is the first of its kind nutritious food gifting program currently available in Bergen and Passaic Counties in New Jersey. Healing Meals provides nutritious meals for families with children undergoing treatment for cancer, serious blood disorders and sickle cell anemia distributed through Tomorrows Children’s Fund (TCF) at Hackensack University Medical Center, through Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Program at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, Paterson, NJ and also through Emmanuel Cancer Foundation. The program expanded to include seniors in need living at Ridgecrest Senior Housing and S.H.A.R.E., Inc. (Senior Housing Association of Ridgewood and Envrions) both located in Ridgewood, NJ.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ridgewood Social Services and vicinity were added to the delivery of Healing Meals for a variety of families and individuals in need. We continue to provide food for those who need it most. Since 2016 HealthBarn’s Healing Meals program has served over 50,000 meals, soups, and desserts funded by private donations to help families, people and organizations as aforementioned.
HealthBarn’s Healing Meals program received the President’s Gold Award for Volunteerism in 2018 for over 3,500 volunteer hours and 9,000+ cooked meals for families with ill children and seniors in need.
In recognition of HealthBarn’s efforts – Founder Antine rang the closing bell at the NASDAQ on January 5, 2021 highlighting the Foundation’s efforts in fighting food insecurity. The full clip can be found here: https://youtu.be/ICPh1MI3tq4.