Ricardo Kaulessar

Food pantries and soup kitchens in North Jersey providing hunger relief will be able to get some relief of their own.

The New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, a nonprofit organization formed last year to fight the medical, social and economic impact of COVID-19 on New Jersey’s most vulnerable communities, is leading a $2.8 million initiative to fund small and medium-sized food pantries and soup kitchens across the state.

The initiative will provide for a program to help food pantries and soup kitchens with operating budgets of less than $500,000.

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

The money can be used for infrastructure needs, such as refrigeration and shelving, or personal protective equipment. It may also be used to buy heaters and tents.

Food pantries and soup kitchens can apply for the grants by contacting the food banks they work with in the state that are part of the initiative.

For North Jersey, it is the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, which joined with Fulfill (serving Ocean and Monmouth counties) and the Food Bank of South Jersey to contribute a combined total of $750,000 to this effort.

North Jersey food pantries and soup kitchens that partner with the Community Food Bank include Buddies of New Jersey Inc. Food Pantry in Hackensack and JumpStart Food Pantry in Paterson.

First lady Tammy Murphy, the founding chair of the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, which donated $1.05 million, said of the initiative, “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, more families than ever are in need of support. 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.”

Other donors so far are the David Tepper Foundation, Delta Dental, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the O’Toole Family Foundation.

Since April, the relief fund has provided over $39 million to help those most affected by the pandemic.

Original Link.