CONTACT: Caitlin Rulli, RDN, 201-444-2955; [email protected]
Volunteer Program Healing Meals Awarded NJ Governor’s Jefferson Medallion for Outstanding Community Service
Nutritious Food Gifting Outreach provides 45,000 meals annually to families with ill children and in need
Ridgewood, NJ (June 28, 2022) – Volunteer program Healing Meals funded through the HealthBarn Foundation 501c3 by public donations was awarded the 2022 NJ Governor’s Jefferson Medallion, known as the Noble Peace Prize of Volunteerism, for outstanding community service as a volunteer group. Team members accepting the award for over 250 volunteers included Stacey Antine, MS, RDN, Founder, Director of the Foundation, and coordinators Elaine Peneno and Donna Flato at the Ground for Sculpture on Sunday, June 26, 2022. The Jefferson Awards, founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Senator Robert Taft, Jr., and Sam Beard, is America’s top honor for public service. For 50 years, the Jefferson Awards have honored a who’s who of American change makers and more than 50,000 community volunteers.
Healing Meals began in February 2016 with a small group of volunteers who cooked and baked nutritious meals, soups and snacks for ill children and their families being treated for cancer at Tomorrows Children’s Fund, Hackensack University Medical Center at no charge. Distribution expanded to St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, Paterson, NJ and Ridgewood’s Ridgecrest Senior Housing Apartments and has grown to a volunteer organization with over 250 helping hands. Volunteers, ages 6-75, lend their culinary skills to prepare 45,000 nutritious meals, soups and snacks annually at the No Fuss Lunch Kitchen, Hawthorne, NJ free of charge. “Healing Meals gifts optimal high-quality nutrition for vulnerable populations when they need support the most,” stated Antine, HealthBarn Foundation, Inc. “It’s a win-win program because it also provides an important opportunity for community members of all ages to engage in making a difference for other families. Our mission aligns with their values which is why they keep coming back to cook,” added Antine.
At the height of the pandemic in Spring 2020, hospitals were not able to accept the meals, so Healing Meals pivoted to address hunger through nutrition by providing the same nutritious offerings to Social Services of Ridgewood and Vicinity and Fairview’s Franciscan Center for Development, designated as one of fifty food desserts in New Jersey in 2022. Healing Meals closed the NASDAQ market bell in January 2021 as part of Wellness Week for its outreach to address hunger and chronic disease through access to good nutrition for families and seniors. In 2019, HealthBarn Foundation was awarded the Gold level President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA), the country’s premiere volunteer award program, for its volunteers who recorded over 3,500 hours and cooked over 9,000 Healing Meals for families with children undergoing treatment for cancer.
In 2021, the Healing Meals program help qualify the HealthBarn Foundation to apply and secure $3M in grant funding by NJEDA’s Sustain and Serve program to fund the Feed the Frontlines and Helping Those in Need. The HealthBarn Foundation in partnership with the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce purchased an average of 12,000 ready-to-eat meals from 20 participating restaurants weekly. The meals were delivered by over 400 volunteer drivers to 29 food pantries and organizations in Bergen and Passaic counties. This program was also awarded a certificate at the 2022 NJ Governor’s Jefferson Award for the Feed the Hungry category.
To watch the award ceremony for Healing Meals, click here.
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.