Providing Meals to Those in Need During the Pandemic

NJHI 2016: Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action, Round 2 Live Healthy Bridgeton
A volunteer delivers meals to seniors at Oakview Court Apartments. The meals were prepared by a chef at Bridgeton High School.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the stay-at-home order restricted many Bridgeton residents from leaving their homes. This prompted the Live Healthy Bridgeton coalition to redirect its community engagement efforts to provide community support. With the approval of the Live Healthy Bridgeton partners, Gateway Community Action Partnership reallocated its funding from New Jersey Health Initiatives to provide meals for our most vulnerable residents.

In doing so, we were able to engage our community partners in supporting our efforts to feed seniors who are homebound and our homeless population, including those coping with mental illness.

We partnered with Bridgeton High School, which serves as a summer feeding site for students in our community.  The school allowed us to pick up meals and deliver them to families who had no access to transportation to the designated school meal distribution sites. Our mission was to feed as many people who did not have access to a healthy meal as we could.

With many of our soup kitchens closed, Bridgeton’s Next GEN Leaders took pride in providing more than 100 meals to seniors and individuals experiencing homelessness in Bridgeton. These community members received a healthy meal and a mask Monday through Friday. In addition, some churches continued to provide grab-and-go meals to help the homeless population during the weekends. COVID-19 continues to have a profound effect on our homeless population who have no place to call home and are less likely to get vaccinated. Therefore, the coalition is distributing personal protective equipment to the homeless and homebound seniors on a weekly basis. Connect with us to stay up-to-date on our work.

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Nina Young
Gateway Community Action Partnership