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 it has delivered more than 500,000 meals to more than 10,000 residents across 60 locations since launching in early April. All meals are prepared by NWK’s 24 participating restaurants, including minority- and female-owned establishments. NWK has sustained hundreds of jobs during the pandemic and helped restaurants relaunch services and rehire staff over the last six months.
With thousands of senior, low-income and disabled housing residents still struggling to access healthy meals during the pandemic, NWK is committed to continuing to fundraise to provide safe and consistent access to food and sustain Newark’s most cherished local restaurants.
“Without NWK I wasn’t going to have anything,” said Kai Campbell, owner of Veggie Walla. “I can’t even describe the feeling of how this program has helped. I’m not making money but I’m able to keep investing in my business because my bills are paid.”
“We don’t have a lunch rush anymore and that was how we made our money,” said Edwin Rosario, owner of O’LaLa Empanadas. “At least 80 percent of our business comes from Newark Working Kitchens.”
“Our staff can rest easy now that they have their jobs and know their families are going to be okay,” said Daniela Hoyos, co-owner of Fresh Coast.
“Six months ago when the pandemic shut down restaurants, it was impossible to imagine the path forward or envision that today we would be reaching this incredible milestone of serving 500,000 meals to those in need here in Newark,” said chef Marcus Samuelsson, owner of Marcus B&P and owner of the Marcus Samuelsson Group. “I’m so proud of our team at Marcus B&P for the quality and care they put into every dish and to all the partners, donors and fellow restaurants working every day to fight food insecurity.”
“Newark Working Kitchens has helped sustain important jobs and small businesses, while providing vital nutritional assistance to underserved communities,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker. “This effort has created a successful model to support the tremendous comeback our city is currently undertaking, and I hope to see this effort scaled in New Jersey and nationwide as a way to continue combatting this pandemic’s health and economic devastation.”
“Newark Working Kitchens has not only helped sustain many of Newark’s restaurants impacted by COVID-19, but it’s helped us get meals to our residents who need them the most,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “Five hundred thousand NWK meals later and we are still faced with the challenges of the pandemic, so I encourage all of Newark’s corporate citizens to join the consortium of givers as we continue to work together to help our small businesses, protect local jobs and deliver food to our community.”
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 seed this COVID-19 crisis response effort, including a $500,000 grant from the City of Newark, and donations from Audible, PSEG, TD Bank, 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. NWK founders are readying a broad campaign to welcome new investment partners across government, corporations and philanthropy to expand the program to meet the small business and food deprivations need in Newark and convey the model throughout New Jersey and beyond.
“Newark Working Kitchens has been validated as a powerful response model for helping communities through the public health and economic crises wrought by COVID-19,” said Don Katz, Audible founder and executive chairman. “We need donors across sectors and giving levels to step up to support this win-win for community members without enough food and independent small businesses, which can stay in business and keep cooks, servers and delivery people working.”
“I’ve learned that corporations and non-profits can work together hand-in-hand for the sake of the people with the same goals and the same objectives,” said Amina Bey, Executive Director of Newark Emergency Services for Families. “Newark Working Kitchens has helped so many people get through their darkest hour but the need keeps growing as this crisis marches on.”
Two weeks ago Audible launched its Global Center for Urban Development to expand the company’s community and economic investment. The Center will bring together Audible’s numerous initiatives, including NWK and Audible’s collaboration with the internationally heralded early-stage social impact investment fund Newark Venture Partners. Audible recently hired Newark economic development leader Aisha Glover to help develop new, scalable models for community investment focused on advancing equality, racial justice and economic empowerment.
As with NWK and NVP, the Center will work closely 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. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or donate here.
Current participating NWK restaurants, many of which are part of Audible’s Lunch Out Wednesday program, include: Andros Restaurant & Diner, Barcade, Blueprint Café, Bulgogi Zip, City Rub Smokehouse, Fresh Coast, Harvest Table, Kilkenny Alehouse, King’s Family Restaurant & Catering, King’s #1 Family Restaurant, La Cocina, Lit 21, Marcus B&P, McGovern’s Tavern, Mercato Tomato Pie/Novelty Burger, Nizi Sushi, O’LaLa Empanadas, Panzz Seafood & Wings, Pita Square, Robert’s Pizza, Sigri Indian BBQ, The Halal Guys, Uncle Willie’s Wings and Veggie Walla.