CLOSE

The HealthBarn Foundation received $1 million in grants to feed families facing food insecurity with restaurant meals during the COVID pandemic, announced during the press conference at HealthBarn/Habernickel Park in Ridgewood on 02/25/21. NorthJersey.com

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Teaneck's Holy Name Medical Center Foundation and Ridgewood's HealthBarn Foundation are among the recipients of state grants totaling $14 million to feed families facing food insecurity with meals served up by local restaurants. 

The Teaneck foundation will receive $2 million from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority's "Sustain and Serve" program. Ridgewood's HealthBarn Foundation was awarded $1 million. 

They were among 28 grants awarded throughout the state to provide assistance to small restaurants preparing food for the needy.

In Ridgewood, the HealthBarn Foundation made the announcement on Thursday. 

"It's an unbelievable coordinated effort," said Stacey Antine, who is director of the HealthBarn USA food programs at the Habernickel Park Gate House, where the announcement was made. "The chamber, restaurants, county Food Security Task Force and the Volunteer Center of Bergen County are all partners to make this happen."

The entire grant must be used to support provider restaurants in Ridgewood's downtown, coordinated through the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce. However, Antine said the estimated 100,000 meals will be distributed to the needy throughout the county.

HEALTHBARN DEBATED: Ridgewood debates future of HealthBarn in Habernickel Park Gate House

PICKLEBALL CURTAILED?: Nonresidents may no longer be able to play pickleball on Ridgewood courts. Here's why

KINGS CLOSES: What we know about the new supermarket replacing Kings in Ridgewood

The foundation and the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce launched "Feed the Frontlines" last year. They collected $100,000 in donations to prepare and deliver an estimated 6,000 meals from restaurants for local hospital workers and other first responders. Grant applicants were required to demonstrate minimum purchases of 3,000 meals valued at $50,000 since last March.

Chamber of Commerce President Scott Lief called it a "classic win-win."

"We busted out of the gate, got the wheels turning, all on social media," Lief said.  

Paul Vagianos, owner of It's Greek To Me restaurant and a former chamber president, called the grant a "lifeline to restaurants in the Ridgewood central business district."

"The grant is going to sustain the industry at a time when we need it most, through the long cold COVID winter," Vagianos said. "Come spring we can resume outdoor dining, and hopefully the pandemic will be waning."

Funding must be used by April 30, according to the application form. 

Antine said the 14 participating restaurants also included Lisa’s Mediterranean, Steel Wheel Tavern, Daily Treat, Bareburger, Santoni’s Pizzera, Finca, GreenFusion, Chestnut Deli & Catering, Piccolo Bistro, Delhi Accent Innovative Indian Dining, Pearl Restaurant, MacMurphy's Irish Pub and Playa Bowls.

"We aren’t sure right now, but based on volume we may need to enlist additional restaurants," Antine said.

Story continues below the gallery

Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

MacMurphy's owners Kayleigh and Eileen Smith said the grant will "help save not only our livelihood but our home of 33 years."

"We have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic in fear every single day that everything we have worked for could be taken away in the blink of an eye," they said by email. Our second generation — daughters, son, nieces and nephews — have never known a time without MacMurphy's, and thanks to this grant, hopefully they will never have to." 

Volunteer Jeanne Johnson, who has coordinated the foundation's delivery efforts, said it expects to deliver "approximately 1,000 meals a day for 90 days." 

"We are partnering with The Volunteer Center of Bergen County and local Ridgewood organizations to solicit drivers," Johnson said. 

The Holy Name organization was the recipient of the largest grant, $2 million.

"We are truly honored and eager to be part of a positive impact on our community," said Cathleen Davey, president of the Holy Name Foundation and vice president of development for Holy Name Medical Center.  "We thank the governor for putting out such a practical program."

Davey said the foundation had identified about 25 restaurants to participate, but not all had completed the required application process.

Davey did single out Amarone's Ristorante, across the street from the hospital on Cedar Lane, as a participant. "Amarone's has been a tremendous support to us," she said.

Bergen County Commissioner Tracy Zur, who heads the Food Security Task Force coordinating local food pantry efforts, said the distribution will help offset the 71% increase in demand from those suppliers.

"There are 103,000 people in Bergen County who don't know where their next meal is coming from," Zur said. 

Among the recipients of awards across the state were Aid the Hungry/FeedNJ, based in Hightstown and serving Morris and Sussex counties, among others. SoupKitchen411 founder and Co-chairman Kenneth DeRoberts said he "couldn't be more proud of the work FeedNJ has accomplished to date."

"With the exceedingly generous funding from this Sustain and Serve grant, we will be able to support even more restaurants, soup kitchens and New Jersey residents," DeRoberts said.

Noting that an estimated one-third of New Jersey restaurants have gone out of business due to the pandemic, DeRoberts said the "prerogative has been to give restaurants a shot in the arm by buying meals in bulk to be served to people facing hunger."

Also among the recipients are Our Community Dinner Table, based in South Hackensack, and the Cliffside Park Hall of Fame Foundation. 

To receive funding, restaurants must have 50 or fewer employees, maintain a commercial location in New Jersey, be registered to do business in New Jersey and be in good standing with the New Jersey state Department of Labor and Division of Taxation.

The authority previously committed $35 million in targeted funding to restaurants through its Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program.

Marsha Stoltz is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: stoltz@northjersey.com

Twitter: @marsha_stoltz

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/bergen/ridgewood/2021/02/25/ridgewood-nj-restaurants-getting-nj-eda-grant-money-under-sustain-and-serve/4542008001/