"CFHE Featured in NY Times"
A New Jersey program that helps nonprofit organizations partner with restaurants is helping people and small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic.
After lining a kitchen utility table with rows of food trays, the team members of MadeMeals, a meal prep service in Kearny, N.J., take their next steps with caution and speed.
They carefully place sliced blackened chicken breasts and herb-roasted chicken thighs onto trays with salads, roasted vegetables or string beans, and brown rice pilaf. Once all of the trays have a protein, they are covered, bagged and boxed. Then the meals, about 300 in all, are refrigerated overnight, ready to be delivered to New Jersey residents the next day.
MadeMeals is one of hundreds of restaurants and meal delivery services across New Jersey that are paid by local nonprofit organizations through a new state program called Sustain and Serve. The program has granted millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations to partner with restaurants to feed New Jersey residents who struggle to have food on a regular basis.
The program is seen as “win-win-win” for nonprofit organizations, residents who are food insecure and small businesses that may be struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. “This is definitely something I’m passionate about, which is to be a business that makes profit, but also has a way to give back to the community and make an impact,” said Jesse McBride, the owner of MadeMeals.
So far, $34 million has been awarded to 29 organizations in the state to partner with restaurants and meal delivery services. Gov. Phil Murphy announced another $10 million for the program this month.
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority, which rolled out the program last November, said the nonprofit organizations were receiving $100,000 to $2 million each to purchase meals from eligible restaurants, which are then delivered free to New Jersey residents.
“All of the restaurants have to have 50 or fewer employees, so that we can really target our focus on small businesses,” said Tara Colton, executive vice president of economic security at the agency. She said the program was on track to serve 3.5 million meals by the end of January.
MadeMeals is paid by Coalition for Food and Health Equity, a nonprofit organization that was awarded $1.2 million to serve weekly meals to around 400 people who are eligible for its meal subscription service, the Hunger Project.
“The majority of those that we serve are seniors over the age of 65, homeless individuals and persons with disabilities,” said Leeja Carter, the nonprofit’s founder and executive director.
“We don’t just do kind of blanket meals,” Dr. Carter said. “If someone has a peanut allergy, or if they have a particular medical condition, then we customize those meals for their particular needs.”
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