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New Jersey earmarks $10M for charities' purchase of restaurant meals

The unusual aid approach is in addition to $20 million allocated in direct grants to operators.
Photograph: Shutterstock

New Jersey is aiming to accelerate the recovery of its restaurant industry by channeling $20 million directly to operators and another $10 million to potential large-scale customers.

The $20 million will be allocated in the form of grants, while the $10 million will be distributed in allotments of $100,000 to $2 million to groups that feed the unprivileged. The charities are required to use the money for the purchase of restaurant meals in bulk. They are then obliged to distribute the food to the needy.

The effort to help restaurants while simultaneously feeding residents in need is a re-up of the dual-purpose Sustain and Serve N.J. Program, an initiative the state launched in February. In that first phase, $14 million was used by 28 charities to purchase 1.5 million meals from more than 340 restaurants, according to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

The $10 million in new funding and the additional $20 million in grant money were allocated under a $325 million small-business relief bill that was signed into law last week by Gov. Phil Murphy.

“This additional funding will help us add to the more than 60,000 small businesses that have received aid to date,” Murphy said in a statement.

Other state officials noted that the aid was approved as dining-room capacity restrictions were lifted by the state and the local tourism industry entered what had been its busiest time pre-pandemic.

“The restaurant, hospitality and tourism industries were crippled by the pandemic shutdown last spring and the continuing capacity restrictions that are just now being lifted sufficiently for them to be able to resume somewhat normal operations heading into the summer,” state Senator Vin Gopal said as part of the announcement. “These new grants will be a big help.”

Applications for the Sustain and Serve N.J. program will be accepted through July 18. They are available here.

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