NEW JERSEY— Many more New Jerseyans are experiencing food insecurity due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but receiving free food from soup kitchens and community giveaways feels different when that food comes from a beloved community restaurant. FeedNJ, the flagship program operated by nonprofit Soup Kitchen 411, has brought smiles to people experiencing food insecurity, relief for overworked soup kitchen crews, and critical business to beloved local restaurants. To date, the program has bought and served nearly 20,000 meals in and from Monmouth County, with a mandate to exceed 30,000 by Thanksgiving.
“I first became involved with Soup Kitchen 411’s FeedNJ program last Spring to make sure local restaurants got much-needed business, and I could not be more thrilled with the economic impact it has had in Monmouth County,” said Senator Vin Gopal. “In particular, the program has purchased over 10,000 meals combined from JBJ Soul Kitchen and No Limits Cafe, which have a ‘Pay it Forward’ model and employ people with intellectual disabilities, respectively. These are not just beloved restaurants with great food, but with socially-conscious missions.”
As New Jersey prepares for vaccine passports to roll out, restaurant owners express their relief at the regularity of large quantities of meals purchased from Soup Kitchen 411.
“JBJ Soul Kitchen is a community restaurant that serves an in-need and paying customer. Our unique “Pay it Forward” model allows diners, who are able to donate, to cover the cost of those in need who have volunteered for their meals. Meals purchased by Soup Kitchen’s FeedNJ program at retail price enable us to continue to generate revenue while donating more meals to those in need,” said Dorothea Bongiovi, co-founder of JBJ Soul Kitchen in Red Bank.
Of the meals served in Monmouth County, over 6,000 have come from JBJ Soul Kitchen, including 5,600 purchased in the past six months through the state EDA’s Sustain and Serve NJ grant. During this grant period, 3,525 meals have come from No Limits Cafe, a lunch cafe employing people with intellectual disabilities.
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Over 50 soup kitchens, food pantries, houses of worship, local nonprofits, community outreach groups and municipal health departments have worked with Soup Kitchen 411 to distribute meals to the community. Almost a dozen local PBAs and Police Departments joined in the fight in July.
If you’d like to learn more about the FeedNJ initiative and volunteer in the fight against hunger, please visit https://Soup Kitchen 411.com/feednj/ and follow @SoupKitchen411 on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.