Grants of more than $900,000 will Address Local Hunger and Homelessness

More than 840 community members opened their hearts and wallets during the 2017 holiday season, donating $450,000+ to the Matching Grants Program sponsored by Partners for Health Foundation.  With the Foundation’s $1 to $1 match, grants totaling more than $900,000 have been distributed to 11 local soup kitchens, food pantries and agencies that provide services to those who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless.

Pam Scott, Executive Director of Partners for Health, remarked, “Since 2014, the Foundation’s Matching Grants program has generated donations of close to $1 million and resulted in grants totaling $1.9 million.  These funds enhance efforts to fight hunger and homelessness, helping our neighbors in need at a time when they need it most.”

“The matching grants program encourages donors large and small to invest in improving the overall health of our communities.  We are proud to be included in this visionary program which is transforming our work,” said Anne Mernin, Director of Outreach at Toni’s Kitchen.  “Funds will be used immediately to expand our Healthy Backpack program and to improve our Take-Away Food program for onsite meal guests.  We will also expand volunteer opportunities in response to the community’s growing interest in understanding and addressing food needs.”

Comments from other grantees reveal more about how these funds are impacting the community: 

Patrice Kelly, Director of A Lot to Grow, notes, “We are building a solar greenhouse at the Benson Street garden in Glen Ridge to maximize the annual yield of vegetables.  This greenhouse will allow us to adapt to local climate trends, while providing space for educational programs for individual gardeners and civic, religious and school organizations.  Our six gardens have to shut down between November and March but the solar greenhouse will be open throughout the year.”

“We believe all people have the right to access high quality, healthy food and these matching funds support City Green’s efforts to increase production of farm fresh vegetables distributed through our mobile markets,” said Jennifer Papa, Executive Director of City Green.

“Demand continues to increase for HOMECorp’s counseling services as well as affordable housing units.  Partners for Health has become a key partner in our efforts to maintain and expand our scope of services,” said David Grill, President, Board of Trustees of HOMECorp.    

According to Mike Bruno, Executive Director of the Human Needs Food Pantry, “The Pantry served 1,200 households in 2017, plus we delivered food to another 220 households.  Matching funds and various other grants from Partners for Health are directly responsible for our ability to provide fresh produce, a wide variety of healthy foods and nutritional supplements to all of our struggling neighbors who come to us for assistance.”

“This grant helps IHN deliver shelter, food, transportation and support services to homeless families, as well as more than 300 hours of case management for families in a housing crisis.  The support is particularly important to bridge our funding through the spring, when shelter funds from government sources run low,” said Emma Justice, Executive Director of the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Essex County.


Gwen Parker Ames, Ed.D., Executive Director of MESH, added, “Matching grants support 10 Bloomfield College students who become homeless during semester recesses, a meal pass program for 50 commuter students, and our new transitional housing program that prepares seniors for independent living, health and wellness, career readiness and financial success.”

“In 2017, Montclair Community Farms distributed 1,200 pounds of affordable produce to local residents with lower and fixed incomes.  We engaged more than 500 volunteers in service learning projects, and provided educational experiences to 350 children.  These funds will help us to increase our community food access goals by launching a greenhouse program,” noted Matthew Duker, Head Farmer of Montclair Community Farms.

“Nutley Family Service Bureau partnered with the Nutley School District to offer immediate eligibility to all families qualifying for the Free and Reduced School Lunch Program in 2017, which increased participation in our Food Pantry program by more than 20%.  Matching funds will provide us with the support necessary to continue our mission and plan for future programming,” said Eileen Painter, Executive Director of the Nutley Family Service Bureau.

“Demand for supplemental food aid from Saint Peter’s Healthy Food Pantry increased 40% last year, from 680 individuals served in January 2017 to 954 individuals served December 2017. We rely on support from generous donors and Partners for Health to keep serving these individuals,” said Kevin Donahue, Executive Director of Saint Peter’s Healthy Food Pantry in Clifton.

Michele Kroeze, Business Manager of the Salvation Army, noted, “Monies from the grant will help us to extend our drop in center hours and hours at the Cornerstone House when weather conditions warrant it.  We have already experienced harsh weather conditions this winter and the season is far from over.  We are committed to serving the most vulnerable members of this community and are grateful for this support of our endeavors.”

Partners for Health fosters collaboration among nonprofits so that, together, they can increase positive health outcomes in the communities they serve.  Since 2008, the Foundation has awarded more than $11.5 million through 165 grants, and partnered with more than 70 organizations, congregations, school districts and municipalities.  The Foundation will mark its 10th anniversary in 2018 with Community Impact Awards, a program that will distribute a total of $100,000 to celebrate 10 individuals and organizations – including unsung heroes and rising stars – who are making extraordinary contributions to the health and well-being of their communities. 

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Sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of this program in support of these organizations. Click on the logos to learn more about each organization: