NEWARK, NJ –– In less than four months of operation, Newark Working Kitchens has delivered more than 200,000 meals to at-risk Newark residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The free meal delivery service for the residents of Newark was created to help allocate more jobs and support those in need of food. 

These meals are prepared by local restaurants which provide 200 meals per day for 5 days a week. These meals are then delivered to almost 10,000 city residents in over 40 locations. 

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NWK has made it a priority to extend this initiative beyond the impacts of the current pandemic by announcing a fundraiser to deliver at least 1 million meals and engage small businesses. 

The organization has been recognized by Mayor Ras J. Baraka as an important step in helping small businesses and those in need. 

“Newark Working Kitchens will be able to deliver tens of thousands of meals in the coming weeks while supporting Newark’s talented array of small business entrepreneurs heavily impacted by the events of 2020,” Baraka said in a statement. 

“Our local restaurants have been very hard hit, and funding NWK allows restaurant employees to return to work and cook for Newark residents in urgent need," Baraka said.

Newark Working Kitchens, a collaboration between Audible, World Central Kitchen and chef Marcus Samuelsson. “Newark Working Kitchens harnesses the full power of our abilities to combat food insecurity during this extraordinary time of need,” Samuelsson said.

“The commercial food economy in Newark is composed of a rich tapestry of small restaurants and foodservice companies that employ many people who need support as we face this historic crisis," Don Katz, Audible founder and executive chairman, said. 

Robert’s Pizza and La Cocina, are among the small restaurants severely impacted by the pandemic.

“We closed [Robert’s Pizza] and La Cocina on April 3, 2020, because we were unsure about the virus... Also, without Rutgers, Audible and Prudential coming to Newark every day, there really wasn't any business”, Aly Leifer, one of the owners, told TAPinto Newark. 

“NWK has been an absolute lifesaver for our business and family. We were able to give employees back their jobs, pay our mortgage and rent, and put food on the table for our own families,”  Leifer added.

Robert’s Pizza and La Cocina are now open and working with NWK, delivering nearly 450 meals per day, five day a week between the two establishments. 

“The satisfaction that we are getting from partnering with NWK is unexplainable. We never would have been able to help the community at the rate and size that NWK has, and we are honored and humbled to be a part of this,” said Leifer. 

Panzz Seafood and Wings is another restaurant NWK has helped. 

“We have prepared about 2,500 meals... also [NWK] has helped bring some of our workers back and really keep us afloat also,” said one of the owners, Shantia Edwards. 

In addition to working with small restaurants, NWK is also collaborating its efforts with community organizations such as Bridges Outreach. 

“[Newark Working Kitchens] has really allowed us to continue to provide critical food when we go out... it has allowed us to go out and provide food more consistently,” said Richard Uniacke, the Executive Director of Bridges Outreach. 

Bridges Outreach, founded in 1988, provides meals, clothing, and toiletries to help end homelessness. They are based in Newark and Irvington as well as New York City. 

With the help of NWK, Bridges Outreach has been able to distribute over 5,000 meals in just a little over 10 weeks. “This has been [really] helpful in our efforts to engage people who are experiencing homelessness in the city," Uniacke said. “It has given us more stability." 

In collaboration with Newark Venture Partners and Invest Newark, NWK also co-launched the Newark Small Business Guidance Program in April and has already provided free business consultation to 92 small businesses. 

The program is deploying attorneys, financial experts and other professionals to assist restaurants participating in NWK and Newark-based and Black-owned small businesses in navigating the business impact of the COVID-19 crisis and obtaining federal, state and local relief funding.