Economic Development

Sustain & Serve NJ Distributes More Than 5M Meals

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) has announced that it has supported the purchase and distribution of more than five million meals through its Sustain & Serve NJ program. Launched by Gov. Phil Murphy in late 2020 as a $2 million pilot program to support restaurants impacted by COVID-19, Sustain & Serve NJ grew into a $57.6 million program that has enabled 36 organizations to purchase meals from nearly 450 restaurants and distribute those meals at no cost to New Jerseyans facing food insecurity. The Garden State is the only state in the country to launch a program of this scale.

“Sustain & Serve NJ brings out the best in our communities – nonprofit organizations working together with their local restaurants to ensure neighbors have access to nutritious meals,” said Murphy. “The enormous benefits of this recovery-focused program can simply not be overstated.”

Through three rounds of funding, Sustain & Serve NJ has enabled 36 grantees to purchase meals from 449 restaurants in 179 municipalities across all 21 counties, distributing nearly 5.4 million meals to New Jerseyans in need. As New Jersey emerges from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and following the conclusion of Phase 3 of Sustain & Serve NJ in August, the lessons of Sustain & Serve NJ will continue to inform and guide NJEDA’s continued efforts to support food security.

“Sustain & Serve NJ started as an innovative model for helping restaurants endure the economic emergency created by COVID-19 and grew to provide over five million meals to hungry individuals and families all over the state,” said NJEDA Chief Economic Officer Tim Sullivan. “We are grateful to Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature entrusting us to deliver on the promise of Sustain & Serve NJ, which has expanded the capacity of our grantees to serve the New Jerseyans that depend on them for food, while lifting up the restaurants that are a source of jobs, culture, and vitality in our communities.”

The NJEDA has issued a report and a video outlining the impact Sustain & Serve NJ has on grantees, restaurants, and New Jerseyans facing food insecurity. A copy of that report and the video can be found here.

The NJEDA is putting forth a multi-pronged strategy to eliminate food deserts within the state, supported by funding designated through the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020. NJEDA has also launched programs to support food access in Food Desert Communities through the Food Retail Innovation in Delivery Grant (FRIDG) and Food Security Planning Grant. Future food security efforts will be funded through the Food Desert Relief Tax Credit auction, launching later this year.

“Sustain & Serve NJ is a phenomenal example of Governor Murphy’s innovative, solutions-oriented and whole of government approach to helping New Jersey families achieve food security,” New Jersey Department of Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman said. “I congratulate CEO Sullivan and the NJEDA for the incredible success of Sustain & Serve NJ, which has provided financial support to so many small restaurant businesses and non-profits and most importantly, has now delivered five million meals to those in need across New Jersey. And as always, I urge anyone in need of assistance affording groceries to visit”

“True food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, economic and social access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food,” said Mark Dinglasan, Executive Director of the New Jersey Office of the Food Security Advocate (OFSA). “The Sustain and Serve NJ program supercharged local economies, especially our restaurant industry, while helping provide social services organizations to provide physical and social access to healthy and nutritious food. Not only this, Sustain and Serve NJ also helped our restaurant and nonprofit sectors innovate and co-create solutions. I applaud the NJEDA for their leadership with this program and OFSA is looking forward to continuously supporting their food security efforts.”

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