FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Caitlin Rulli, RDN
Volunteer Program Feed the Frontlines Meets Increased Demand for Hot, Nutritious Meals at Bergen County Food Pantries as Pandemic Rages On
Government Officials Drive Meals into Homestretch of New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Sustain and Serve Grant Deadline with an Eye on Phase 3
Ridgewood, NJ (January 5, 2022) – Volunteer Program Feed the Frontlines – Helping Those in Need funded through New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Sustain and Serve grant to HealthBarn Foundation 501c3 exceeds over 12,000 hot, nutritious meal deliveries. All meals are from 20 Ridgewood restaurants to Bergen County food pantries starting the first week of the year. With record numbers of NJ COVID-19 cases, food pantries are in greater need of meals creating a demand for more volunteer drivers to get them there. NJ government officials are stepping in with family members to drive meals to pantries. They will be able to see first-hand how their support of the NJ Sustain and Serve is working to address NJ’s food insecurity crisis. NJ Governor Murphy announced that the Sustain and Serve program, due to expire in early 2022, will continue through Phase 3 funding. HealthBarn Foundation in partnership with the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce purchases nutritionally balanced meals from the Ridgewood restaurants. A fleet of over 400 volunteer drivers pick-up hot meals to deliver to food pantries in partnership with the Bergen County Food Security Task Force.
Government leaders on the January volunteer driver schedule include: Legislative District 39: NJ Senator Holly Schepisi, details; Legislative District 40: Assemblyman Christopher P. DePhillips, details; Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney, details; NJ Senator Kristin M. Corrado, details; Bergen County Commissioners Ramon M. Hache, Sr., details and Tracy Silna Zur, details. “The Sustain and Serve grant has enabled the Feed the Frontlines team to get delicious and nutritious meals to neighbors in need throughout the pandemic, proving this new model is effective and sustainable,” stated Stacey Antine, MS, RDN, founder/director, HealthBarn Foundation. “We are in need of drivers as we enter the final weeks of the grant’s phase 2 and we are thrilled to have the support from our district legislatures – who have supported us from the beginning of the program in February 2021,” added Antine.
In Phase 2, which began in September 2021, the participating Ridgewood restaurants have received over $1.3 million and produced over 131,000 high quality, nutritious meals served to people in need. To date, the Ridgewood restaurants have received $2.4 million which has served as a life line to keep their doors open and staff working. “This NJEDA grants have been a win-win for our restaurants who continue to be effected by the economic complexity of the pandemic. They continue to do what they love and the recipients have the dignity of a hot, nutritious meal while mitigating storefront closure and unemployment – it’s a home run,” stated Scott Lief, board member, Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce.
The call for volunteerism doubled with the NJEDA Sustain and Serve Phase 2 grant funding and has been impacted with the rising COVID-19 pandemic cases. Volunteerism makes a difference, please sign up to help: [LINK: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040b4dacae2ca0f58-volunteer].
Feed the Frontlines – Helping Those in Need raised $100,000 from the public in Spring 2020 for the HealthBarn Foundation to purchase ready-to-eat meals from local restaurants organized by the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce. The meals were transported by resident volunteers to hospital frontline workers, emergency service personnel and food insecure neighbors during the height of the pandemic. This initial program qualified the HealthBarn Foundation to apply and secure NJEDA’s Sustain and Serve Phase 1 Grant for $1M for 100,000 meals in February 2021 successfully concluding in June 2021. In August 2021, NJEDA granted $2M for 200,000 for phase 2 funding to conclude early the first quarter of 2022.
HealthBarn Foundation is a New Jersey non-profit corporation and a federally recognized 501c3 public charity with a mission to gift families with ill children and seniors with healthy food through access and in conjunction with nutrition education. There are currently four initiatives that are being funded with generous support from the public including: Healing Meals, Feed the Frontlines and Helping Those in Need, Garden-to-Table Scholarships and School Nutrition Education. Email [email protected] or call 201-444-2955 for more information.