We've received many questions about how our organization has adapted to address the COVID-19 crisis. If your question is not listed below, please reach out to us!
- Are you still open?
- Are guests still receiving outreach services?
- How are you protecting your staff? Do you have PPE?
- How are homeless guests coping with this public health crisis?
- What trends are you seeing in the community?
- How has the CARES Act helped nourish.NJ?
- When will you re-open for sit down meals?
- How can we help?
Are you still open?
For more than 35 years, nourish.NJ has ensured that our neighbors in need have access to food and resources. We’ve never missed a day, and though our operations have shifted, we’re still here every day distributing meals to our community. To comply with state guidelines, we have indefinitely suspended our sit-down meals and free farmers markets. But being unable to gather physically has not impeded our ability to get food into the hands of those who need it most. We are serving an average of 100 take-away meals a day, and distributing groceries to 50 people from our main site. In addition, we are delivering food and household items to another 150 senior citizens, families, and community members.
Are guests still receiving outreach services?
Our outreach staff continues to provide counseling, support, resource connection, housing services, and medical case management every day by phone. Since the beginning of this crisis we have been proactive in reaching out to people in need through the many relationships we have in the community. We are working closely with the Morris School District, Morristown Housing Authority and Atlantic Health System to ensure everyone has access to the food, support, and services they need during this difficult time.
How are you protecting your staff? Do you have PPE?
The healthy and safety of our staff, volunteers, and guests is our first priority. All meals and services are provided while adhering to social distancing guidelines. We have limited the number of staff on-site each day to three, and we are currently not using volunteers for meal prep and serving. We have been fortunate to have access to masks and gloves for all staff members, and have also distributed masks and gloves to hundreds of our guests.
How are homeless guests coping with this public health crisis?
We are deeply concerned about the health and well-being of our guests who are experiencing homelessness and are currently unsheltered. To make sure they have what they need during this crisis we have developed a plan with Atlantic Health System and the County of Morris to ensure every person who tests positive for COVID-19 will have a safe place to quarantine, and we will coordinate their healthcare, services and concrete needs. We are hopeful that, through these partnerships and with continued advocacy, we will be able to secure permanent housing options for all of our guests experiencing homelessness.
What trends are you seeing in the community?
We are thankful that Governor Phil Murphy issued an executive order suspending evictions for the duration of this public health crisis. However, if this “eviction moratorium” is lifted without additional protections for renters, tenants will owe thousands of dollars in back rent. With unemployment soaring, many families will be unable to make these payments and will need help. We are raising funds and working with community partners to help families and individuals in need of financial assistance during this unprecedented time.
We know that for many people in New Jersey this is just the beginning of the crisis. As workers become unemployed, schools continue to pursue distance learning, and the threat of eviction becomes real, secure housing is essential. Many people in the state will be struggling in ways we have never been seen before. During the 2008-2009 recession, low-wage workers were the hardest hit and the last to recover. We know that as this crisis continues to unfold our support and services will become more critical than ever.
How has the CARES Act helped nourish.NJ?
Early on our Board of Directors made a commitment to retaining our staff and equipping our team with what they need to work remotely when possible. We were fortunate to be included in the first round of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and that has helped us continue to pay our staff. In addition, most of our staff was eligible for stimulus money. Unfortunately, because many of our guests live on Social Security or disability, or they work limited hours and didn’t file tax returns, they are not eligible.
When will you re-open for sit down meals?
We have adapted in record time to provide for all of our guests’ needs in ways that allow for appropriate social distancing, such as take-away meals and groceries as well as remote social services. We are eager to formally restart our Free Farmers Markets and are developing new operations that will allow us to provide the same high quality, fresh and healthy produce, meat and dairy while adhering to social distancing protocol. We expect to have that program up and running with enhanced curbside pick-up and delivery in the next few weeks. We anticipate that sit down meals will be the last service to return, and we will continue to offer take-away and delivery of meals until it is safe to gather again.
We’re so grateful to be a part of such a generous and welcoming community, and have been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received during this time. While we are accepting donations of non-perishable food items on a limited basis, the best way to assist us at this time is by making a monetary donation through our website. We’re responding to this ever-evolving situation in real-time, and financial donations allow us the flexibility to get the food and supplies we need, when we need them, and get them into the hands of the people who need them most. This is how we’ll #FillTheNeed in our community.
Thank you so much for your continued support.