MEDIA ALERT: NJ AWARDS RIDGEWOOD HEALTHBARN FOUNDATION AN ADDITIONAL $1 MILLION GRANT TO HELP FIGHT FOOD INSECURITY IN BERGEN COUNTY
From: HealthBarn Foundation, Ridgewood, NJ 07450, 201-444-2955 or [email protected]
Contact: Axiom Communications, Michael Golz, 201.788.7821 or [email protected]
$4 MILLION AND COUNTING: RIDGEWOOD’S HEALTHBARN CONTINUES THE FIGHT AGAINST FOOD INSECURITY IN NEW JERSEY WITH ADDITIONAL $1M GRANT FROM SUSTAIN AND SERVE NJ PROGRAM – NEXT ROUND OF FOOD DISTRIBUTIONS TO START SEPTEMBER 19TH
Inflation surge, rising price of food and gasoline, and concern over winter COVID resurgence expose prolonged economic and food insecurity in Northern New Jersey
RIDGEWOOD, N.J., September 14, 2022 – The New Jersey Economic Development Authority [NJEDA] awarded an additional $1 million to Ridgewood’s HealthBarn Foundation under Phase 3 of its Sustain and Serve NJ program to continue its effort to create food security in northern New Jersey. To date, the HealthBarn Foundation has received over $4 million on grant funding since February 2021 and through its partner the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce, its “Feed the Frontlines” initiative has purchased over 300,000 meals from local restaurants and delivered them to local food pantries throughout Bergen County. Distribution of the third round of hot, nutritious meals will begin on September 19th.
“COVID-19 laid bare the food insecurity that exists in our communities, an issue that remains present even as we emerge from the pandemic,” said NJEDA Executive Vice President for Economic Security Tara Colton. “Under Governor Murphy’s leadership, Sustain and Serve NJ has not only helped to combat hunger, but has also created a national model for supporting the nonprofits and small restaurant businesses that are the foundation of thriving communities. We are on track to support the purchase of five million meals through Sustain and Serve NJ and are grateful to HealthBarn and the other grantees for their efforts throughout New Jersey.”
The COVID pandemic exposed that even in an affluent area like Bergen County, more than 100,000 people, including many children, are faced with food insecurity on a daily basis. With food prices increasing nearly 11% year-over-year during the summer, even more residents are struggling to put healthy food on the table. In addition, many food pantries in the area have seen a sharp decline in food donations which makes the timing of Phase 3 of Sustain and Serve NJ even more critical, and the need for volunteers has never been greater.
“Many working families with limited time and resources rely on Feed the Frontline meals to nourish their families and now with an increase of migrant families to Fairview, the need has exploded,” stated Susan Colacurcio, CEO, Executive Director, Franciscan Development Center of Fairview.
Because of the rising food costs, the NJEDA has increased the meal purchase to $12 up from $10 in Phase 3. “Restaurants are able to keep their doors open, extend worker hours, and even hire more employees because of HealthBarn Foundation’s commitment of $4.1 million in NJEDA Sustain and Serve NJ funding for Ridgewood restaurants,” said Joan Groome, Executive Director of the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce.
HealthBarn’s collaboration with the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce will start purchasing 7,000 hot, nutritious meals from Ridgewood restaurants and distribute them to food pantries throughout Bergen County starting September 19, but volunteers to drive these meals to the various locations are in short supply. In order for the program to continue its success, volunteers are needed to drive 100-200 meals from restaurants to pantries in Fairview, Englewood, Garfield, Ridgewood and other locations. HealthBarn and the Ridgewood Chamber are encouraging people to sign up through the SignUpGenius Portal – link can be found HERE or at the following website address: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040B4DACAE2CA0F58-volunteer1.
“The Sustain and Serve NJ program and our collaboration with the NJEDA team has had an incredible impact on Ridgewood restaurants’ bottom line, provided the dignity of a high-quality meal for the hungry, and injected a boost to volunteerism in the community,” stated Stacey Antine, MS, RDN, Director, HealthBarn Foundation. “We are excited to be awarded Phase 3 funding to keep our incredible team executing Ridgewood Feed the Frontlines.”
In the first round of HealthBarn’s $1 million grant, volunteer drivers made more than 2,000 trips totaling 1,218 hours and delivered to 217 locations every week for a total of 100,000 meals. In Phase 2, the NJEDA’s Sustain and Serve NJ program awarded $2 million to HealthBarn Foundation, the bulk purchase of 200,000 meals from restaurants to feed the hungry. Volunteer drivers made more than 4,000 trips totaling over 2,400 hours.
“With the approval of the third Sustain and Serve NJ grant, we again have the opportunity to deliver – but we need more volunteer drivers to address the growing need,” said Bergen County Commissioner Tracy Zur who also spearheads the county’s Food Security Task Force. “Ridgewood Feed the Frontlines program is vital to support our neighbors in need, however, in order to bring food to those who are struggling, we need volunteers to be part of the solution.”
In recognition of their efforts, the Feed the Frontlines team received the NJ Governor’s Jefferson medallion for Volunteerism in September 2021 and a certificate of recognition for Hunger Relief in June 2022.
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.
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. And, the New Jersey Governor’s Jefferson Award medallion for Volunteer Group in June 2022.
In recognition of HealthBarn’s efforts – Founder Stacey 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
About the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce:
With over 300 members and a 90-year history of serving Bergen County businesses, The Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest and oldest Chambers in the United States. The RCC is a voluntary organization of individuals, businesses, professionals and organizations dedicated to advancing the commercial, professional, civic and general interests of our community.
About NJEDA’s Sustain and Serve Program:
The NJEDA’s Sustain and Serve NJ program provides up to $2M grants to organizations to purchase meals from New Jersey-based restaurants that are struggling during the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.