NJEDA – Latest Phase Brings Total Program Allocation to Nearly $35 Million, Resulting in the Purchase of 3.5 Million Meals from More Than 350 Restaurants  

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) today announced that an additional $11 million has been allocated to Phase 2 of the successful Sustain and Serve NJ program, bringing the total for this round of grant funding to $20 million. The NJEDA anticipates awarding grants to 29 organizations statewide through Phase 2 of the program. This funding is expected to support the purchase of two million meals from nearly 300 New Jersey restaurants in more than 120 municipalities statewide. Through Phase 1 of the program, over the past five months, the program has supported the purchase of 1.5 million meals from over 350 restaurants with grants totaling over $14 million.

“The overwhelming and heartfelt response from organizations stepping up to support their local restaurants and their neighbors truly embodies the Jersey spirit,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Restaurants are an essential part of our economy and their success is essential to our state’s recovery from the pandemic. Having so many entities leverage Sustain and Serve NJ funds to not only inject cash into restaurants but also partner with those restaurants to feed members of their community is an absolute grand slam.”

With Phase 2 of Sustain & Serve NJ, the NJEDA will provide $20 million in grant funding to entities throughout the state to support expenses directly tied to bulk purchasing of meals from New Jersey-based restaurants. Each awardee will receive a grant of between $100,000 and $2 million to fund these purchases. The entities will then distribute the meals at no cost to the recipients of the meals.

Governor Murphy signed legislation in June 2021 that, in part, allocated funding for Sustain and Serve NJ, enabling the NJEDA to open Phase 2 of the program. Due to the enormous interest from organizations and restaurants throughout the state, NJEDA is dedicating an additional $11 million in federal monies.

“From the outset of COVID-19, Governor Murphy has driven innovative programs to help New Jersey residents and businesses weather the economic effects of the pandemic,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “We are grateful to the Governor for strengthening New Jersey’s vital restaurant industry through initiatives like Sustain and Serve NJ. Bolstering this sector will help fuel our recovery efforts and propel our economy forward.”

In addition to Governor Murphy, Sullivan also thanked New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin for their support.

Community leaders and legislators throughout New Jersey are applauding the Sustain and Serve NJ Program as a win-win for the state.

“Restaurants are among the small businesses hit hardest by the pandemic, and supporting their recovery is key to restoring the vibrance of our communities,” said Senator Dawn Addiego. “I can’t think of a better way to rally around the restaurant community while helping those in need than the funding model created by Sustain and Serve NJ.”

“The Sustain and Serve program is an innovative way to bolster the restaurant industry while supporting community members who need a helping hand during this difficult time,” said Assemblyman John Armato. “This funding will help countless restaurants in Atlantic City and beyond keep their employees on the payroll and continue to serve both residents and visitors alike. Our communities will be better off as a result of the ongoing implementation of this critical program.”

“The structure of Sustain and Serve NJ is smart and proactive in terms of the dual benefits it provides,” said New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association President and CEO Dana Lancellotti. “In addition to helping restaurants keep their lights on and their workers employed, the program provides an opportunity for them to make a positive difference for their communities.”

“Community policing supports safer, stronger neighborhoods and the State Policemen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) is grateful to for the opportunity to distribute food purchased from local restaurants by FeedNJ to people in need,” said NJ State PBA President Pat Colligan. “The pandemic laid bare how many New Jerseyans are on the verge of food insecurity and being able to share meals is a wonderful way to build trust in our communities. The Sustain and Serve NJ program isn’t just helping to support restaurants and put food on some otherwise empty tables – it’s helping to preserve the dignity of some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Newark-based Audible launched Newark Working Kitchens in April 2020 and has already distributed over one million meals within the community.

“The Sustain and Serve NJ Program has made a measurable impact on Newark’s local restaurants and residents most in need of support,” said Don Katz, Audible Founder and Executive Chairman. “The added grant funding announced today will provide more vital support for community members without enough food and independent small businesses, which have been able to stay open throughout the pandemic by cooking meals for Newark Working Kitchens.”

A full list of participating organizations can be found at the end of this news release. Organizations marked with an asterisk (*) are new to the Sustain and Serve NJ Program for Phase 2.

The Coalition for Food and Health Equity in Hudson County works with small businesses and organizations in its community to accelerate food, health, and economic equity within Black and brown communities. A $450,000 grant from Phase 1 of the Sustain and Serve NJ Program supported the purchase of 45,000 meals from local restaurants that the nonprofit distributed to food-insecure residents in Hudson County.

“We founded the Coalition as a direct result of the needs we were seeing from community members affected by the economic upheaval of the pandemic,” said Dr. Leeja Carter, Founder and Executive Director of the Coalition for Food and Health Equity. “Our meals have been described as ‘truly a Godsend’ and ‘a blessing to families’. We are grateful that the Sustain and Serve NJ program will enable us to give tens of thousands more ‘blessings’ in the coming months.”

In Mercer County, the Rescue Mission of Trenton provides a safe, clean, and warm refuge for people within its community. It also offers healthcare, housing assistance, addiction treatment and job training to its clients. The organization provided nearly 76,000 meals in the past year. The Rescue Mission’s efforts were supported by a $100,000 grant during Phase 1 of Sustain and Serve NJ.

“The Rescue Mission has been part of the greater Trenton area for over a century and this year we have seen a significant uptick in demands we must address as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Trenton Rescue Mission Chief Executive Officer Barrett T. Young, MA, CADC. “The Sustain & Serve NJ program allows us to simultaneously bro