SUMMIT, NJ - Giving and Receiving Assistance for Our Community's Essentials (GRACE), the Junior League of Summit's signature community outreach project, has relocated its headquarters to space in the Cornog Fieldhouse at Memorial Field. Since its inception, the program had been operated out of Summit's Christ Church.
Founded in 2016 by Summit resident Amanda Parrish Block, the program was launched after research showed that one in six Summit public school students lacks access to fresh, nutritious foods. Now in its third year, GRACE has grown from serving 20 families to assisting 107 this summer.
“To sustain our growth and to meet upcoming plans, the time has come to move to a larger space,” said Parrish Block. “We will maintain our relationship with Christ Church. We are deeply grateful for the gift of Christ Church’s community and beautiful facility.”
GRACE will continue to use a refrigerator at Christ Church in order to serve the population who cannot attend Tuesday evening distribution for serious and valid reasons. As of October 8, GRACE and the Summit Department of Community Programs (DCP) began evening distribution of necessities and community outreach in its new space.
This past spring, under the banner of the Junior League of Summit, GRACE partnered with the DCP to open GRACE’s Refrigerator’s second location at the newly renovated Community Center. That effort now serves 20 households each week.
Also, while continuing to assist the families it serves with sufficient food and household necessities, GRACE has expanded its programs to support Summit’s working poor to include music and visual arts classes, fitness experiences, and medical screenings and health education.
The organization -- which believes that "a thriving community starts with access to life’s necessities for all its residents and that neighbors take care of neighbors" -- relies on the efforts of volunteers and donations to provide the essentials, including healthy food, seasonally-appropriate gear and household supplies. GRACE’s Refrigerator is open weekly and offers nutrient-dense produce, dairy, and prepared food which is sourced from the Summit Farmers Market, local businesses, and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.