The New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund (NJPRF) announced its first round of grants to help stabilize the food distribution network that provides food security for more than 1,000,000 residents in vulnerable communities across the state.
The non-profit NJPRF was launched March 24th to marshal resources to meet critical needs and fight the economic and social impact of COVID-19 within New Jersey.
“We organized the NJPRF to meet four critical challenges of our state in the face of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Tammy Murphy, First Lady of New Jersey and founder of NJPRF, “Stop the spread, support the healthcare community, provide help for the vulnerable, and rebuild. We begin with this food distribution effort, as it is one that is most urgent.”
Over the past three weeks, NJPRF has developed a broad base of stakeholders and advisors that will allow the organization to quickly provide desperately sought-after resources. These initial grants reflect the realities of drastically increased economic challenges in New Jersey and the logistical difficulties of getting food to the people who need it most.
In tandem, NJPRF is focusing on the New Jersey healthcare community. Analysis of its most urgent needs and the best approach and organizations to meet them is underway and ongoing.
“Today, after an unprecedented generous response by donors around the country, we are able to announce our first grants, to 110 service organizations in 20 of New Jersey’s 21 counties,” said Murphy. NJPRF identified organizations that are able to deliver help immediately and surveyed them to assess their ability to meet the demand in their communities, Murphy said. Grants were based on that assessment.
Of 550 organizations in New Jersey’s food distribution network surveyed, more than 160 provided full responses. About 30% of them said they currently did not require funding. The remaining shared funding needs that included food sourcing, operating expenses and expenses related to increasing capacity.
“Without this assistance, some pantries might have had to close their doors or reduce services, leaving neighbors searching for their next meal and putting additional pressure on the other local organizations,” Murphy said.
The grants can also support food pantries’ efforts to establish social distancing protocols to safely provide food to individuals already infected with COVID-19 and to those exposed to them, Murphy said.
The current food security grants range from $5,000 to $25,000 and are awarded to organizations affiliated with the three main food banks in the state – Community FoodBank of NJ, the South Jersey Food Bank and Fulfill (formerly Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties). (List of grantees attached). Murphy herself has no role in the grant award process.
“This essential food security effort is only the beginning,” said Josh Weinreich, CEO of NJPRF. “NJPRF is uniquely situated to analyze the statewide landscape of needs created by this pandemic. Our federal and state partnerships combined with a deep connection to local relief organizations give us a unique vantage point to target our grants and resources to help those most affected. We are fortunate that NJPRF is able to identify and provide funds to those organizations that can deliver aid most quickly, efficiently and effectively.”
According to Weinreich, a generous donation to cover all administrative costs of the fund means that one hundred percent of NJPRF online donations received can directly fight the impacts of COVID-19 and support organizations that provide essential services and aid to those on the front line of the pandemic. NJPRF is hosted by the Community Foundation of New Jersey, which has been serving New Jersey non-profits and philanthropists for more than 40 years.
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