Newark-based Audible has launched a meal delivery platform, NWK Delivers (NWKD), which marks the next iteration of Newark Working Kitchens (NWK), the company’s nationally recognized COVID-19 crisis response, as it shifts its focus from disaster relief to a sustainable long-term solution for the city.
Since April 2020, NWK has served nearly 1.5 million meals to residents in need, while helping to sustain the local restaurant economy. The next stage of this proven impact model, NWKD harnesses the purchasing power of local employers to sustain and grow area restaurants, while offering an array of food choices to corporate employees and maintaining a critical meal match component for Newark’s most vulnerable residents.
In June, Audible began a pilot of the program’s new app, powered by Sharebite, which allows employees to order lunch from more than a dozen NWK restaurants and includes a company-provided stipend to encourage engagement. For every meal order placed, Audible donates an additional meal to Newark residents in need via a targeted delivery model in collaboration with community organizations. Sharebite will also make a charitable contribution to address food insecurity within Newark for every meal ordered via the NWKD app. Audible’s 1:1 meal match along with Sharebite’s contributions will continue to preserve and create hundreds of jobs for cooks, servers and delivery people. A contactless and turnkey offering, NWKD aims to expand to other Newark-based corporations to increase investment in Newark’s restaurant economy.
“For more than two years, Newark Working Kitchens has supported Newark’s restaurant economy through unprecedented hardships, and I encourage Newark’s corporate anchors to join our efforts and offer NWK Delivers to their employees,” said Aisha Glover, VP of Urban Innovation at Audible. “NWKD not only offers support to local businesses and creates jobs, it also provides much-needed meals to residents who have been hardest hit by the pandemic. To ensure the survival of the local restaurant economy, ongoing support is needed from large local employers, focusing their investment capacities beyond philanthropy, to avoid a worsening and perpetual crisis. The private sector needs to do its part.”
Through this program, Audible aims to boost spending in the local economy and offer a scalable urban-impact model that can be swiftly adopted by other corporations and cities seeking to breathe life into their ground-floor retail economy.
“Audible’s continued commitment to Newark and its innovative programs like NWK Delivers will boost spending in our local restaurants while providing meals to those who need them most. I encourage companies across the city to sign-up and offer their employees NWKD to help accelerate our comeback from the pandemic,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka.
NWKD disrupts traditional corporate cafeteria and catering services by redirecting budgets to neighborhood businesses. In addition to a significantly lower fee structure than the 30-35% commission charged by popular meal delivery platforms, it also creates economies of scale through consolidated meal delivery at fewer sites for participating restaurants, all of which are locally-owned and operated with over 50% being minority or woman-owned.
Restaurant owners hailed the program as a financial lifeline in uncertain times. Kai Campbell, owner of The Walla, which is participating in NWK Delivers, said: “Restaurants are the soul of our community. The evolution of this amazing program will allow Newark’s close-knit community of restaurants to come back stronger at a time when independent restaurants nationwide are searching for a path forward.”
Currently, participating restaurants include:
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