Feeding the Bridgeton Community During a Pandemic

NJHI 2017: Next Generation Community Leaders Next Gen Leaders
Daniela Mendez prepares meals for distribution to families.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, my fellow Next GEN Leaders and I began our mission to address food insecurity by developing surveys to determine which families that did not have transportation to the designated “Grab-and-Go” sites operated by Bridgeton High School were eligible to receive food. As a team, we traveled across several of our diverse communities within Bridgeton to find those who were interested in receiving healthy meals through our program. Now, 33 Bridgeton families are receiving a variety of different meals every week that are packed and distributed by our team. In addition, we have also focused our energy on providing meals to seniors and individuals experiencing homelessness in Bridgeton. By the end of July, we distributed 2,167 healthy meals throughout our community.

A lot of families really depend on our summer feeding program. Many parents and children are home due in part to summer vacation from school and the COVID-19 pandemic. None of my teammates or our partners could have anticipated that we would be making a difference in our community during a worldwide pandemic.

Next GEN Leaders Jennifer Hernandez, Marcos Rivera, Daniela Mendez and Erick Ojeda, enjoy their work!

As a first-year Next GEN Leader, I was given the opportunity to work with amazing peers who are extremely motivated and persistent. It is very inspiring to see a young group so determined to take part in helping their community. Being part of this team has enlightened me about our community’s needs. I am mostly shy, but my team helped me to sharpen my communication skills. They encouraged me to do my best each and every day, and they have done the same. I am grateful to have been a part of Bridgeton’s Next GEN Leaders, and hope many more opportunities such as these are provided to us in the future.

We will always strive to make a difference!

Next GEN Leaders Gary Gould, Rigo Silva, Marcos Rivera, Tra’mir Bennett and Junior Coach Virgen Silva prepare boxes of meals for labeling.

Explore the Bridgeton team’s work to improve health for their families, friends and neighbors. Meet all 10 Next Generation Community Leaders teams here.

The Grantee Blog regularly publishes updates from NJHI-supported communities. Bookmark this site to stay up-to-date and share in the work of building healthier communities across New Jersey.


Daniela Mendez, Next GEN Leader
Tri-County Community Action Agency, Inc.