MONTCLAIR, NJ — Toni’s Kitchen is receiving a helping hand in the fight against hunger from the FeedNJ program, in the form of buying 250 meals every Thursday and 250 meals every Saturday morning from local restaurants to serve free of charge at the food pantry in Montclair.
“People who relied on our aid pre-pandemic still do, and many people who previously didn’t now do as well,” Toni’s Kitchen Executive Director Anne Mernin said. “Being able to buy some of the meals we serve is crucial, and I want to thank FeedNJ for helping buy 500 meals every week. We are hoping that both FeedNJ and Toni’s Kitchen will be renewed for grant funding from the state to keep supporting restaurants and soup kitchens.”
Like FeedNJ, which is operated by nonprofit organization SoupKitchen411, Toni’s Kitchen received a direct grant from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority in the winter to purchase meals from restaurants to serve free of charge. Toni’s Kitchen provides full meals, prepared in-house and purchased from restaurants to area residents on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to noon and Sundays from 5 to 5:30 p.m. No questions are ever asked and no proof of income is needed.
“I was just talking to a restaurateur this weekend and he mentioned how ideally structured this program is, how it supports restaurant jobs and feeds the hungry — two things we’ll need for the long-haul,” Mernin said.
Essex County Commissioner and Montclair native Brendan Gill was on site at the inaugural Toni’s Kitchen–FeedNJ event on June 10, handing bagged lunches to residents.
“I would like to commend the mission and work of the FeedNJ program, which is so important in the immediate and medium-term recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gill said. “Local restaurants have been hurting all pandemic, and are anxious to return not just to 100-percent meal service capacity, but more than 100 percent to make up for the past year. Meanwhile, more people are facing food insecurity, even in areas with high average incomes. This program helps local businesses and residents, so I’m glad they asked for my assistance in partnering with Toni’s Kitchen.”
Photos Courtesy of Bobby Dombrowskikitch