NEWARK, NJ — A Newark-based free meal delivery service was awarded $2 million on Thursday to continue its efforts to assist the city’s low-income residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Newark Working Kitchens, an organization launched by Audible in 2020 amidst the pandemic, partners with local restaurants and cooks offering nutritious meals for low-income seniors, families and homeless residents. The organization was awarded $2 million by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (NJEDA) Sustain and Serve NJ Program to help local restaurants continue their operations. Upon announcement of the funds, the organization said it also surpassed the 750,000 meals served-mark to the area’s residents in need. 

“Newark Working Kitchens continues to prove itself as a vital response model for aiding the Newark communities most affected by COVID-19,” Don Katz, Audible founder and executive chairman, said in a statement. “New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority’s generous support will help Newark Working Kitchens expand its impactful reach to communities across the state.

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"I’m calling on donors of all sizes to support this initiative, which has provided thousands of meals to our neighbors while helping local restaurants stay open and retain jobs," Katz said. 

The Newark meal delivery group has already helped more than 20 restaurants relaunch services and rehire staff, helping to sustain hundreds of jobs. Since its launch, Newark Working Kitchens has delivered meals to more than 10,000 residents across 70 locations. All meals are prepared by the organization’s 30 participating restaurants, more than half of which are minority-and woman-owned establishments. The organization announced it is also expanding to six new restaurants across the city

With Newark being one of the hardest-hit cities by the pandemic, economically, it continues its path to recovery as thousands of senior, low-income, disabled housing residents, and people without homes remain struggling to access consistent healthy meals during the pandemic. 

Newark Working Kitchens has been actively fundraising to provide safe and consistent access to food for these communities, while providing for the city’s local restaurants. 

“Small businesses are the backbone of Newark’s economy, and we’re grateful for the resilience and ingenuity of Newark Working Kitchens as it continues to raise funding to employ local Newarkers, help reopen our restaurants and take care of our neighbors during these trying times,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said. 

Thus far, the organization has already received private and philanthropic support, which includes a $500,000 grant from the city in addition to contributions from Audible, PSE&G, TD Bank, the New Jersey Devils, and other local businesses and organizations. 

The organization is also preparing a broad campaign to welcome new investment partners to expand the program to sustain small businesses and address food deprivation in Newark and other surrounding areas. 

“Owning a restaurant in Newark, the city I was born and raised in and love so much, is humbling,” Monique Bonilla, owner of The Weekend Spot, said. “COVID has made every day harder than the next, but I am so happy to be working with Newark Working Kitchens and creating meals with love, like our mothers and grandmothers used to prepare. Equally, rewarding is knowing that I can now keep my staff employed and my business afloat. I am very grateful for the opportunity to make meals for my neighbors in need.”

Current participating Newark Working Kitchen restaurants include: 

  • Andros Restaurant & Diner, Barcade,

  • Black Swan Espresso

  • Blueprint Café

  • Bulgogi Zip

  • CityRub Smokehouse

  • Cornbread

  • Fresh Coast

  • Harvest Table

  • Kilkenny Alehouse

  • King’s Family Restaurant & Catering

  • King’s #1 Family Restaurant

  • La Cocina

  • Marcus B&P

  • McGovern’s Tavern

  • Mercato Tomato Pie + Novelty Burger

  • Mompou Tapas Bar & Restaurant

  • Nizi Sushi

  • O’LaLa Empanadas

  • Panzz Seafood & Wings

  • Pita Square

  • Robert’s Pizza

  • Sigri Indian BBQ

  • Taino’s Kitchen

  • The Green Chicpea

  • The Halal Guys

  • The Walla

  • The Weekend Spot

  • Uncle Willie’s Wings

  • Vonda’s Kitchen