Feed the Frontlines and Helping Those in Need

Category: Volunteer Group
Nominator: Stacey Antine 

What was their service?

Feed the Frontlines and Helping Those in Need launched in the height of the pandemic in March 2020 raising $100,000 from private donations to keep restaurants in business by buying ready-to-eat meals for EMS, hospital workers and food insecure.  Due to that success, we applied for the NJEDA Sustain and Serve grant and was awarded $1M for 100,000 meals for participating restaurants and food insecure recipients throughout Bergen County.  All leadership and transportation is volunteer including Stacey Antine, MS, RDN, director of HealthBarn Foundation the grantee.  Stacey directed all restaurants to provide nutritious balanced meals including a protein, vegetables and whole grains (no pasta and vodka sauce).

What motivated them to serve/volunteer? 

Food insecurity in Bergen County has reached epic levels including families, seniors and special needs.  We wanted to be part of the solution and knew that 100,000 meals would be a great way to treat our neighbors to a delicious meal with dignity and their healthy in mind.

What did they achieve/how did they make a difference? 

For the first round of Feed the Frontlines and Helping Those in Need in March/April 2020, we were able to keep our favorite local restaurants open by putting $100,000 into the central business district, while providing over 4,500 ready-to-eat meals to frontline workers, seniors and people in need in Ridgewood, NJ.  Now with the NJEDA grant of $1M and 100,000 we just gave $170,000 in funding into 20 participating restaurants who have supplied over 30,000 ready-to-eat nutritious meals throughout Bergen County at food pantries, shelters, senior housing, places of worship and mental health facilities.  The transportation is handled by volunteer drivers delivering over 1,500 meals daily.  We aim to have the 100,000 meals delivered by 5/31/21 (the programs was just extended to 7/31/21).  The recipients are thrilled, the restaurants call it the vaccine for the business and the drivers are feeling great about their service and now becoming aware of a significant need in the community at large.  The good will, connections and support is priceless.  This initative has garnered tremendous media attention from CBS-TV, The Bergen Record and other media outlets.  It brings so much hope during a very challenging time.