The HealthBarn Foundation is looking for volunteers to deliver meals

RIDGEWOOD − Volunteers are the ingredient we need most HealthBarn Foundation launches its third round of participation in the state competition Sustain and Serve NJ Program to feed the food insecure on Monday, according to director Stacey Antine.

“Volunteers to transport these meals to different locations are rare,” Antine said. “For the program to be successful, volunteers are needed to transport 100 to 200 meals from restaurants to food pantries in Fairview, Englewood, Garfield, Ridgewood and other locations.”

HealthBarn was among 30 recipients of the third round of grants totaling $17.5 million from the New Jersey Economic Development Agency program announced in July. The foundation’s $1 million third-round grant brings the funding it has received since February 2021 to $4 million to oversee the restaurant services program that has prepared approximately 300,000 meals.

But as COVID concerns have diminished, so has the volunteer base that contributed to the success of phases one and two.

“In order to bring food to those struggling, we need volunteers to be part of the solution,” said Bergen County Commissioner Tracy Zur, who oversees the county’s food security task force. .

Inflation has also increased the cost of preparing the hot, nutritious meals that are the foundation’s hallmark, Antine said. Thus, the subsidies will finance fewer meals.

“Due to rising food prices, Sustain and Serve NJ has increased the purchase price for meals to $12 in phase three from $10 in phase two,” Antine said.

Councilman Paul Vagianos says his restaurant Ridgewood, It’s Greek to mewill continue to participate.

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“We are very grateful,” Vagianos said. “Restaurants are still recovering from COVID, and the need for meals is greater than ever.”

Residents can sign up to serve as volunteer drivers on Register Genius.

Other Bergen County programs receiving Sustain and Serve postgraduate grants include All Access Community Development, HMH Hospital Corporation, Our community tableand the Cliffside Park Hall of Fame Foundation.

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