NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Doug Schneider recently brought lunch to all the workers at two local Trader Joe's.
He did the same thing for the dozens of cashiers, stock clerks and other workers at some local ShopRite supermarkets.
Schneider’s #FeedRVillage campaign recognizes that it takes a village working together to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic. So along with stops at hospitals, police headquarters, fire stations and EMS stations, there have been lunchtime deliveries to shops, supermarkets, nursing home facilities and even the Rutgers facility that helped create the non-evasive, FDA-approved saliva test.
Schneider’s two New Brunswick restaurants, The Olive Brach and Tavern on George, have become true community kitchens thanks to many donations and the collaboration with his director of operations, Matt Ferguson.
One donated $9 meal covers the cost to feed more than two people - and helps recognize all the various heroes across the Hub City and beyond.
“It was important to us to recognize everybody who is showing up at their jobs and doing what they do to keep everything going during this health crisis,” said Schneider. “That could mean a lot of different things and we wanted to show all of them how much they are appreciated and respected.”
Although #FeedRVillage is supported by contributions from many, the campaign hit the ground running thanks to seed money from the New Brunswick Development Corporation, the city’s private development firm. DEVCO’s gift of $20,000 has helped Schneider deliver thousands of meals.
DEVCO President Chris Paladino said he and Vice President Merissa Buczny began looking weeks ago for ways they could help a local restaurateur deliver meals to the staffs at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Saint Peter’s University Hospital, as well as the city’s first responders.
The money would also serve to help that restaurant owner keep the lights on and the staff paid during a time when eateries are feeling the statewide economic slowdown after dine-in services were banned in the name of social distancing.
Paladino and Buczny turned to Schneider, whom they knew from working together in developing the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center.
“I give Doug all the credit in the world,” Paladino said. “We wanted it to be a double win. So, we wanted to provide meals, but we also wanted to help a local business person. Doug does work with us at the performing arts center. And it just went from there. It's an extraordinary testament to the spirit of New Brunswick. The fact that we have all of these front-line workers working in our city is a testament and someone like Doug actually really has an entrepreneurial spirit and that there were that many people not just Brunswick but from the outlying communities, the larger New Brunswick community, who stepped up.
“He really carried the day and figured out a way to do it in a quick, safe, timely manner. So, I love to see the pictures of him (on social media) out there with his plastic containers.”
One of Schneider’s more memorable deliveries came a few weeks ago when he dropped off about 150 of meals at Rutgers University’s RUCDR Infinite Biologics where the game-changing saliva test was developed.
Lunchtime at RUCDR can be tricky, said Jay Tischfield, the chief executive officer and scientific director there.
“We have been so busy, we really don’t have time for lunch,” Tischfield said. “There’s nowhere to go really. You have to go way off campus. And then, you can’t sit down or anything. So, you have to take it out. The folks at Olive Branch and Tavern on George understood this. The food was good. I happened to be in on that day.”