SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Impact100 Essex, which awards a minimum grant of $100,000 annually to support a transformational local project, recently awarded its third annual grant to Meeting Essential Needs with Dignity (MEND), a network of 20 food pantries throughout Essex County including the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church food pantry in West Orange.

During its annual meeting held at Seton Hall University, the organization announced the MEND will receive a grant in the amount of $120,000 that will enable the nonprofit to source, store and transport fresh produce to its food pantry network.

"With this grant, MEND will now be able to deliver substantially more fresh and healthy food to pantries and people living with the highest food insecurity rates in New Jersey,” said MEND executive director Robin Peacock. “We are thrilled to have the funds to build a fresh food hub that will streamline and innovate the way families, children and individuals in our community access the nutritious food they need.”

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The MEND hunger-relief network focuses on alleviating hunger and addressing its root causes by providing 20 local food pantries with fresh and healthy food, funds, a network of volunteers and a collaborative forum for pantry managers to connect and work together on broader hunger-and poverty-related issues. Together, these pantries serve more than 134,000 people—nearly 40 percent of whom are children—throughout Essex County each year. 

Mayuri Chandra, co-head of the grants committee of Impact100 Essex, said that it was gratifying to know that these funds “will benefit entire families in Essex County.”

“We’re also very gratified that our membership grew in 2019, so we are able to award the other finalists a leverage grant,” said Kate Shoemaker, co-head of the grants committee. “All of these nonprofits do very important and impactful work in Essex County. They all put forth inspiring and transformational project proposals. The Impact100 Essex membership is extremely pleased that we are able to support all of these organizations.”

Margo Greenfield, co-convener of Impact100 Essex, added that the organization is proud to have awarded a total of $400,000 over the last three years to “leverage the ambitions of local nonprofits dreaming big and ready to launch impact programs.”

“Our members are dedicated to this work, and our goal continues to inspire more women to join our mission,” she said.  

The Impact100 Essex grant is funded by gifts of $1,000 per member per year. The organization holds information sessions throughout the winter and spring to establish the grant funding for the year.

The three other finalists for the award this year—including Hetrick-Martin Institute of New Jersey (HMI-NJ), Imagine: A Center for Coping with Loss and Volunteer Lawyers for Justice (VLJ)—will each receive a $10,000 leverage grant to support their nonprofit work in Essex County.

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