NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Elijah’s Promise has been on a mission for more than 30 years to help the food insecure in the city and beyond.
But, Elijah’s Promise could use some help, itself.
The community kitchen - the most visible resource for the city’s food insecure, serving more than 100,000 meals each year – is expecting a surge of people showing up at its doors as the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic continues.
For one thing, it’s anticipated that the closing of city schools will mean more guests at the kitchen on Neilson Street. For many children in New Brunswick, the free breakfasts and lunches they get at school is the only meals they have most days.
And although the district is providing grab-and-go lunches while schools are shut, many students will likely find their way to Elijah’s Promise.
One other unfortunate outcome of the COVID-19 spread is massive layoffs city-wide and state-wide. Again, people in need will come to Elijah’s Promise.
Elijah’s Promise’s social workers are available at lunchtime every day to accept donations of fresh food, rice, pasta and other foods. Money donations, however, are most effective.
“The best way for people to help is to make a one-time emergency donation,” said Michelle Wilson, executive director. “We know how to make their money stretch and help the most people.”
In the past few weeks, Elijah’s Promise has spent more than $25,000 on emergency supplies including food, new freezers and sanitation supplies.
To compound the situation, many of the fundraising and volunteer groups the kitchen relies on to donate and prepare meals are greatly impacted as well. Volunteers cannot help inside the dining room or kitchen at this time for fear of COVID-19 exposure.
Wilson and her staff have split into two teams that avoid coming into contact with each other.
“If one team has to self-quarantine, the other team can take over and prepare and provide meals,” Wilson said.
Staff members have been handing out to-go meals – one day last week it was baked chicken with vegetables and potatoes – at Elijah’s Promise’s doors.
Elijah’s Promise has managed to stay open through natural disasters, economic downturns, the shock of terrorism and other events and factors. It doesn’t want to close considering people will be relying on it now more than ever.
“Even after (Superstorm) Sandy, we stayed open,” Wilson said. “We want to be able to serve the people in the community and we need help doing that right now.”
Checks can be mailed to 211 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick, NJ 08901, or donations can be made by visiting Elijah’s Promise’s website.