Newark Working Kitchens (NWK), a COVID-19 response that activates Newark’s restaurants to deliver nutritious meals to low-income seniors and families, today announced the delivery of its 1 millionth meal, a milestone as the program continues to support Newark small businesses and residents amidst the pandemic. Meals are prepared by NWK’s 30 participating restaurants, more than half of which are minority- and women-owned establishments, and have reached more than 10,000 residents across 70 locations over the past 14 months.
Launched in April 2020, NWK has ensured senior, low-income and disabled housing residents and people without homes have consistent access to healthy meals throughout the pandemic, as well as sustained Newark’s most treasured local restaurants. With support from the private and public sector, NWK has preserved hundreds of jobs over the past year, helping several restaurants relaunch services and rehire staff.
“This milestone is a testament to the amazing restaurant owners and workers, city and state leadership, and operational partners who have worked tirelessly to make a significant positive impact on Newark’s restaurant ecosystem and community members without enough food,” said Don Katz, Audible founder and executive chairman. “Our restaurants and communities still need us, so we welcome donors at all giving levels to support NWK and urge private sector decision-makers and government officials in other cities to consider how a program like this can sustain jobs, businesses, and lives in their own communities."
“Collaboration has been key in our fight against COVID-19 and we are thankful for Newark Working Kitchens and its vital role in supporting the local economy since the onset of the pandemic,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka “The NWK meals have not only helped sustain residents in need, but also allowed restaurants in our community to keep their doors open despite widespread industry closures. It’s public-private partnerships like this that help move Newark forward as we continue on our road to recovery.”
“Governor Phil Murphy is committed to an equitable and inclusive recovery for all New Jerseyans, and Newark Working Kitchens exemplifies that same spirit of support for small businesses and general concern for our fellow New Jerseyans,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “The grant Newark Working Kitchens received through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (NJEDA’s) Sustain and Serve NJ program has amplified the tremendous impact they’ve had on the Newark community and helped to support businesses that have struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic. Restaurants are an essential element of our communities and the one million meals that NWK has served have made a significant difference in the lives of so many.”
“The pandemic put a strain on our restaurant, but an even bigger strain on our community — many of whom were already dealing with food insecurity and job loss,” said Josh Miller, co-owner of NWK participating restaurants Robert’s Pizza and La Cocina. “Through Newark Working Kitchens, I’ve been able to keep close to twenty staff employed and our community fed. It’s been an honor to be a part of NWK over the past year and to contribute towards reaching this feat of one million meals served.”
Newark Working Kitchens was launched by Audible, a company that has made improving the lives of the communities in which it operates one of its defining principles. NWK has received private and philanthropic support to fund this COVID crisis response effort, 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, New Jersey Devils Managing Partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer in collaboration with the Devils Care Foundation, and numerous other local businesses and other organizations and individuals.
“Last March, our shelves were bare and the lines were around the block. We had never seen a level of need like this before and then Newark Working Kitchens arrived to save the day. Each and every NWK delivery has had a tremendous impact on our community,” said Amina Bey, Executive Director of Newark Emergency Services for Families. “These meals have been a steady presence for recipients in a time of great uncertainty and a lifeline to the restaurants they support.”
In September of 2020, Audible launched its Global Center for Urban Development to expand the company’s community and economic investment and institute new and scalable models focused on advancing equality, racial justice and economic empowerment. The Center will centralize Audible’s numerous initiatives, including NWK and Audible’s collaboration with Newark Venture Partners (NVP), an internationally heralded early-stage social impact investment fund.
As with NWK and NVP, the Center works in tandem with the City of Newark which guides NWK to determine where meal delivery is needed most and collaborate distribution with tenants associations and a growing list of community organizations including Ironbound Community Corporation, Bridges Outreach, Newark Emergency Services for Families, Palm Street Block Association, Newark Homeless Coalition, NJCRI/Crossroads Drop-in Center, Tree House Cares, Willing Heart Community Care Center, Clinton Hill Community Action and the YMCA.
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Current participating NWK restaurants, many of which are part of Audible’s Lunch Out Wednesday program, include: Andros Restaurant & Diner, Barcade, Black Swan, Blueprint Café, Bulgogi Zip, Chicpea, City Rub Smokehouse, Cornbread, Fresh Coast, Harvest Table, Kilkenny Alehouse, King’s Family Restaurant & Catering, King’s #1 Family Restaurant, La Cocina, Marcus B&P, McGovern’s Tavern, Mercato Tomato Pie/Novelty Burger, Mompou/Spanish Tavern, Nizi Sushi, O’LaLa Empanadas, Panzz Seafood & Wings, Pita Square, Robert’s Pizza, Sigri Indian BBQ, Taino’s, The Halal Guys, Uncle Willie’s Wings, Veggie Walla and the Weekend Spot.