The New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund is spearheading a $2.8 million initiative to fund  small- and medium-sized food pantries and soup kitchens that face an increased surge in demand for food during the coronavirus pandemic.

NJPRF, which was founded in March to marshal resources to meet critical needs and fight the economic and social impact of COVID-19 within New Jersey, is donating $1,050,000 to the initiative.

NJPRF brought together several partners to fund the initiative, including the David Tepper Foundation, the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Fulfill, the Food Bank of South Jersey, Delta Dental, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the O’Toole Family Foundation.  NJPRF welcomes other donors as partners in the initiative.

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“We are thrilled to lead the funding of this initiative to assist food pantries and soup kitchens around the state,” NJPRF CEO Josh Weinreich said.  “Emergency food providers have done a tremendous job feeding our neighbors, but they need more help. We anticipate demand for emergency food remaining constant or rising further as winter progresses.”

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, more families than ever are in need of support.” said First Lady Tammy Murphy, the founding chair of NJPRF.  “Thankfully, due to the generosity of our partners, food banks across New Jersey will be able to meet the unprecedented need and ensure that every family has enough to eat.” 


 
According to recent Feeding America, New Jersey has experienced a 56% increase in food insecurity since March, and 82% of New Jersey’s food pantries surveyed by the NJPRF expect an increase in demand for emergency food over the next three months. The NJPRF survey found the need for increased refrigeration to store food as the number one barrier to serving more people in need
 
“Small pantries are the backbone of emergency food relief in New Jersey,” said Carlos M. Rodriguez, CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, one of three food banks that will together contribute $750,000 to the initiative.  “Giving smaller food pantry capacity building and infrastructure grants will position them to distribute more food and help more people and families over the long term.” 
 
The initiative will establish a grants program for small-to-medium-sized food pantries (operating budget of less than $500,000). The initiative will be administered by the contributing food banks for their food program partners in the counties they serve.  

Grants between $5,000 and $15,000 will be available to pantries that are experiencing large surges in demand for emergency food, the need to winterize their outdoor “grab and go” food distribution, or the need to expand operational capacity to meet continued increased demand for food due to the pandemic.  

The grants can support infrastructure needs, such as refrigeration and shelving, or  personal protective equipment. Funds may also be used to purchase heaters and tents, allowing food pantries to create COVID-19 safe outdoor grab and go operations.

“The economic impact of COVID-19 on individuals and families continues to stress the emergency food network in New Jersey,” said Terence O’Toole of the O’Toole Family Foundation. “We are proud to support this vital effort to ensure our residents struggling with food insecurity have enough to eat.”

“Food insecurity is a major problem facing residents of our state,” said Randi Tepper, chief operating officer of the David Tepper Charitable Foundation, which is contributing $750,000 to the effort. “These grants will allow food pantries to make the necessary investment in infrastructure and operational capacity to handle the increased demand for food.”
 
Shortly after it was founded in April 2020, NJPRF distributed $1.75 million to nonprofit food organizations throughout the state to help address the immediate economic hardship created by the pandemic. The Fund also partnered with the state’s largest food banks  to raise $550,000 for the  purchase and distribution of 3.25 million diapers.

From May through June, NJPRF granted $19.1 million in emergency relief aid to over 430 non-profit organizations, many of which were food pantries or organizations that help provide food relief.  To date, NJPRF has provided over $39 million to help those most affected by the pandemic.

TAPinto is a media sponsor of the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund.