On November 13, 2020, the NJEDA Board approved the creation of the Sustain and Serve NJ program, a $2 million grant program that will provide funding to organizations which will be used to purchase meals, in bulk, from restaurants that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which will be distributed at no cost to New Jersey residents.

This program is the latest in a number of NJEDA initiatives supporting New Jersey restaurants impacted by COVID-19, which most recently included $35 million in targeted grant funding for restaurants the Authority made available through Phase 3 of the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program.

Under the Sustain and Serve NJ program, eligible organizations can receive grants of at least $100,000 to support prospective costs associated with the bulk purchasing of meals from New Jersey-based restaurants.

Who is eligible to apply?

Restaurants may not directly apply for this grant. Restaurants interested in the program are recommended to contact an entity with an established bulk meal purchasing and distribution program to discuss potential partnership.

The program will be open to any eligible entity, including 501(c) non-profit organizations, that are legally registered to do business in New Jersey and are in good standing with the Department of Labor and the New Jersey Division of Taxation. The entity must also demonstrate to the Authority that they have an sufficient capacity to bulk purchase meals with the NJEDA’s grant. The guidelines the NJEDA has established to demonstrate this is that the applying entity must be able to show as part of the application that they have purchased more than 3,000 meals at a total cost of no less than $50,000, from New Jersey-based restaurants, between March 9, 2020 and the date the Sustain and Serve NJ application is released to the public, which is expected to be in December 2020.

The grant applicants will identify to NJEDA, as part of the grant application, the restaurant or restaurants from which they will be purchasing meals with the grant funding. Restaurants may not directly apply for this grant. The NJEDA will only consider restaurants with:

  • 50 or fewer employees (based on the restaurant’s most recently filed WR-30 with NJDOL);
  • A physical commercial location in New Jersey;
  • Legal registration to do business in New Jersey and good standing with the New Jersey Department of Labor and New Jersey Division of Taxation;
  • Good standing with the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (where applicable);
  • Valid certification from municipal or county government inspection showing a current rating of Satisfactory per the New Jersey Retail Food Establishment Rating system; and
  • Restaurants will also have to certify that they were in operation on February 15, 2020, and detail how their business has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

What can the grant funding be used for?

Grant funding from the NJEDA can only be used for prospective costs associated with the bulk purchasing of meals. Specifically, this means any costs incurred between the date of execution of grant agreement, and April 30, 2021. The NJEDA will not provide reimbursements for meals purchased prior to the execution of a grant agreement with the NJEDA. While the NJEDA cannot require establish specific parameters around specifically who the meals are distributed to, grantees are prohibited from re-selling any meals purchased with NJEDA grant funding.

Grant funding awarded through Sustain and Serve NJ will be restricted to expenses related to the direct cost of purchasing meals, as determined by the grantee’s restaurant partner or partners. This cost may include the restaurant’s cost of food and ingredients, labor, packaging, facilities, and profit margin. Sales tax and/or gratuity is not an eligible use of grant funds. While the restaurant may charge the grantee recipient any amount, the NJEDA’s grant award amount will be capped at a calculation of $10 per meal. No other expense incurred by the grantee, whether in support of the meal purchase from the restaurant or otherwise, is eligible.

Grantees will be incrementally disbursed grant funding as costs are incurred and demonstrated to the Authority.

How does my entity apply?

Restaurants may not directly apply for this grant. Restaurants interested in the program are recommended to contact an entity with an established bulk meal purchasing and distribution program to discuss potential partnership.

Applications for the program are currently under development and expected to be available in December 2020. Please continue to check this page for further updates.

Updated: November 13, 2020

Source: NJEDA

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