NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Helping to feed a city during the COVID-19 pandemic – and the economic damage it has wrought – hasn’t been easy for Elijah’s Promise.
However, the city’s most visible resource in the fight against food insecurity got a big boost from the grassroots nonprofit, SoupKitchen411.
As part of its #FeedingFriday event through its FeedNJ initiative, SoupKitchen411 partnered with the Rutgers Club to deliver 400 meals to Elijah’s Promise.
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Council Vice President Suzanne Sicora Ludwig were on hand to hand out meals. Harry Coffee, campaign manager for FeedNJ, also helped out.
By 11 a.m., about 10 people had already lined up outside the building tor a hot meal of pasta and meatballs. More people — young, older, Black, white, Hispanic, male and female — continued to arrive at Elijah's Promise's doors as the day stretched on.
A man brought his daughter to pick up lunch. A man in a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt repeatedly thanked Coughlin and Sicora Ludwig for the meal.
"Elijah's Promise's motto is food changes lives and it really does," Coughlin said. "Think of all the people for whom their job when they wake up every day is how are they going to feed themselves and their family. It's a drag on their productivity. It's a drag on them being successful. It does change their lives by having this food."
Said Sicora Ludwig: "In the wake of COVID-19 we are tasked with creative thinking to make a bold and immediate difference in our daily lives. SoupKitchen411 has done just that with their FeedNJ campaign. I was honored to be a very small part of that this morning, and we as a city, are fortunate for the generosity of those who support the mission of SoupKitchen4ll, and all those who organize the efforts to ensure that those less fortunate in our community always have a warm meal.
"I would also be remiss without recognizing the amazing staff at our very own soup kitchen, Elijah's Promise. Thank you to Harry Coffee and Ken DeRoberts for all of the hours of hard work they put in to make this happen. The city of New Brunswick thanks you all, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart."
Executive Director Michelle Wilson said the demand on the services provided by Elijah’s Promise has soared over the past several months. In July 2019, the community kitchen on Neilson Street served 7,990 meals. Last month, it served 18,060.
"The past few months, we have seen the reality of people living paycheck to paycheck no longer have a paycheck. We have become the only option for many people in the Greater New Brunswick area," said Ed DeVeaux, a member of Elijah's Promise's Board of Directors.
FeedNJ was launched in April by DeRoberts, founder of SoupKitchen411, a database directing people in need to tri-state area soup kitchens. DeRoberts started FeedNJ to augment its mission to raise funds to purchase locally prepared meals which could be served for free at community kitchens.