NEWARK, NJ – As the COVID-19 pandemic left many families and seniors across Newark with overwhelmed resources, a group of local restaurants known as Newark Working Kitchens came together and responded by delivering nutritious meals to those most at risk People delivered.
On Thursday, Newark Working Kitchens, founded by Newark-based audiobook producer and seller Audible, announced a huge hit serving its 1 millionth meal.
“This milestone is testament to the great restaurant owners and workers, city and government leaders, and operational partners who have worked tirelessly to have a significant positive impact on Newark’s restaurant ecosystem and community without enough food.” said Audible founder and executive chairman Don Katz. “Our restaurants and communities still need us, so we welcome donors at all levels of donation to support NWK, and encourage private sector decision-makers and government officials in other cities to consider how a program like this can create jobs, businesses, and lives in their own communities can sustain their lives. “
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The program continues to support Newark’s small businesses and residents amid the pandemic with meals prepared by 30 participating restaurants. More than half of these companies are minority and women owned and have reached more than 10,000 residents in 70 locations in the past 14 months.
When Newark Working Kitchens launched in April 2020 at the height of the pandemic, the group ensured seniors, low-income and disabled residents, and the homeless, had consistent access to healthy meals throughout the pandemic. In return, efforts helped preserve Newark’s most popular local restaurants.
“Working together has been key in our fight against COVID-19, and we are grateful for Newark Working Kitchens and their important role in supporting the local economy since the pandemic began,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “The NWK meals not only helped support residents in need, but also enabled restaurants in our community to keep their doors open despite widespread industrial closures.”
Since its inception, Newark Working Kitchens has received private and philanthropic support to fund its COVID response efforts, including $ 2 million from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, a $ 500,000 grant from the City of Newark, and donations from Audible, PSEG , TD Bank, the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, the New Jersey Devils Managing Partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer, local businesses and other organizations and individuals.
With support from both the private and public sectors, Newark Working Kitchens has saved hundreds of jobs and helped several restaurants revitalize their services and recruit staff over the past year.
Several local establishments that particularly supported this effort were Robert’s Pizza and La Cocina, jointly owned by Josh Miller.
“The pandemic weighed on our restaurant, but it put an even greater strain on our community – many of whom have already struggled with food insecurity and job loss,” Miller said. “Newark Working Kitchens have enabled me to employ nearly twenty people and feed our community. We were honored to be part of Newark Working Kitchens last year and to help achieve this achievement of one million meals served. “
Another local outreach service the initiative helped was Newark Emergency Services for Families. When the emergency utility found its shelves of people queuing around the block to eat, Newark Working Kitchens stepped in to save the day.
“Every shipment of Newark Working Kitchens has had a huge impact on our community,” said Amina Bey, executive director of Newark Emergency Services for Families. “These meals have been a constant presence for recipients at a time of great uncertainty and a lifeline for the restaurants they support.”
In September 2020, Audible also launched its Global Center for Urban Development to expand the company’s community and economic investments. The center focuses on promoting equality, racial justice and economic empowerment.
The center will centralize Audible’s many initiatives, including Newark Working Kitchens and Audible’s collaboration with Newark Venture Partners, an internationally recognized early stage social impact mutual fund.
The center works with the City of Newark to help Newark Working Kitchens find where food delivery is needed most, and works with tenants’ associations and a growing list of community organizations.
These organizations include:
- Ironbound Community Corporation
- Bridges outreach
- Newark Family Emergency Services
- Palm Street Block Association
- Newark Homeless Coalition
- NJCRI / Crossroads drop-in center
- Tree house maintenance
- Willing Heart Community Care Center
- Clinton Hill Community Action Hill
- The YMCA
For more information about Newark Working Kitchens or to get involved, email [email protected] or make a donation here.