Last week, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) announced that it will open applications for a new round of Sustain & Serve NJ funding early next month. The announcement follows approval of enhancements to the program today by the NJEDA’s Board. The NJEDA’s Sustain & Serve NJ program provides eligible entities with grants up to $2 million to support the purchase of meals from New Jersey restaurants that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and the distribution of those meals at no cost to recipients. Applications are expected to open March 1, 2022 and close April 1, 2022. The application will be available at njeda.com/sustain-and-serve/.
Through the first two phases of Sustain & Serve NJ, the NJEDA awarded more than $34 million to 31 organizations across the state, resulting in the purchase of nearly 3.3 million meals from more than 400 participating restaurants since March 2021.
“Sustain & Serve NJ offers a multitude of benefits to New Jersey communities as they work to equitably recover from COVID-19,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “In addition to supporting the nonprofit organizations that play a crucial role within their communities, the program also helps local restaurants keep their doors open and their employees paid, while connecting individuals facing food insecurity with much-needed meals. We believe that Sustain & Serve NJ can be a national model for other states as they emerge from the economic impact of the pandemic.”
This latest phase of Sustain & Serve NJ is funded by $10 million in American Rescue Plan funding that will be made available to non-profit organizations in New Jersey. Eligible organizations will receive grants of between $100,000 and $2 million for bulk purchases of meals from New Jersey restaurants. The entities will then distribute the meals at no cost.
“Under Governor Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey is taking a holistic, multi-agency approach to combating hunger and Sustain & Serve NJ is a vital piece of that strategy,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Not only does this program help fuel our state’s overall economic recovery by enabling restaurants to hire and retain staff, but it also supports organizations that are providing nutritious meals to people statewide who may not otherwise have access to them.”
The NJEDA will hold an informational webinar on March 2, 2022 at 10 a.m. for potential applicants to learn tips and advice for applying. The webinar will also include a walk-through of the application. The webinar can be accessed here: tinyurl.com/SSNJPhase3. A recording of the webinar will be available at njeda.com/sustain-and-serve/.
The NJEDA made several enhancements to the Sustain & Serve NJ programs between Phase 2 and Phase 3 based on feedback from Sustain & Serve NJ grantees and from the community. This includes raising the cap that the NJEDA will provide per meal from $10 per meal to $12 per meal, as well as allowing grantees to use a portion of their grant to support organizational implementation and operational costs.
In Phase 3, the NJEDA is also lowering the threshold of past purchases that applicants must show to demonstrate eligibility for the program. Applicants now must demonstrate a history of purchasing at least 1,500 meals costing at least $25,000 between March 9, 2020 and the date of the application launch—lowered from 3,000 meals and $50,000, respectively, in past phases. Up to 50 percent of past purchases (i.e., up to 750 meals and $12,500) can be from donated meals from restaurants if the applicant can produce invoices from restaurant donors verifying the number of meals and monetary value of the donated meals.
Complete eligibility, as well as programmatic changes, can be found at: njeda.com/sustain-and-serve/.
“The enhancements announced to the Sustain & Serve NJ program today reflect the increased and continued demand for services facing nonprofits today and the NJEDA’s commitment to supporting these vital organizations serving New Jerseyans,” said NJEDA Vice President of Economic Security Tara Colton. “These programmatic changes to Phase 3 strengthen our ability to get meals into New Jersey’s diverse communities as we advance the goal of creating a stronger and fairer New Jersey for all residents.”
While restaurants may not directly apply for Sustain & Serve NJ grants, those interested in providing meals through the program may opt to have their information posted publicly on the NJ COVID-19 Business Information Hub at forms.business.nj.gov/ssnj/restaurants/ or by completing the Sustain & Serve NJ Restaurant Interest Form available at forms.business.nj.gov/ssnj/restaurants/interest/. Restaurants may also contact an entity with an established bulk meal purchasing and distribution program to discuss potential participation. Potential grant applicants may choose to refer to this registry and contact restaurants about participating in the Sustain & Serve NJ program, though inclusion on the list is not an endorsement from the NJEDA as to eligibility for Sustain & Serve NJ.
Through partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders, the NJEDA creates and implements initiatives to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in the State and strengthen New Jersey’s long-term economic competitiveness.
To learn more about NJEDA resources for businesses call NJEDA Customer Care at 609-858-6767 or visit njeda.com and follow @NewJerseyEDA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.