Authority’s directors approve Sustain and Serve NJ program

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Board of Directors has approved the creation of the Sustain and Serve NJ program, a $2 million grant program that will provide funding to organizations to purchase meals from restaurants that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and distribute the meals at no cost to New Jersey residents.

This program builds on prior NJEDA initiatives supporting restaurants that have been impacted by COVID-19, including $35 million in targeted grant funding for restaurants the authority made available through Phase 3 of the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program, according to a press release.

More information about Sustain and Serve NJ and complete eligibility requirements for potential applicants are available at

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating impacts on all of our lives, but restaurant owners and their employees have been hit particularly hard,” NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan said.

“Sustain and Serve NJ is an innovative solution that will provide much-needed relief to our restaurant sector while also providing free meals to New Jersey residents. This is crucial to ensuring New Jersey’s communities and economy withstand the pandemic and are in a strong position to recover,” Sullivan said.

The press release from the NJEDA states that according to the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association’s most recent estimates, as many as 30% of New Jersey restaurants are at risk of permanent closure, and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development reports that more than 134,000 restaurant employees have filed unemployment insurance claims.

Sustain and Serve NJ will make up to $2 million of funding from the NJEDA Economic Recovery Fund available to organizations working to bolster the strength of New Jersey’s restaurants, according to the press release.

Eligible organizations can receive grants of at least $100,000 for prospective bulk purchases of meals from New Jersey-based restaurants.

The program will be open to entities, including 501(c) nonprofit organizations, that are legally registered to do business in New Jersey and are in good standing with the New Jersey Department of Labor and the New Jersey Division of Taxation.

Restaurant operators may not directly apply for this grant.

Grant applicants will be required to demonstrate prior bulk purchases of 3,000 or more meals valued at $50,000 or more from New Jersey-based restaurants between March 9, 2020 and the date of application launch.

The NJEDA will not provide reimbursements for meals purchased prior to the program launch. Grantees cannot resell any meals purchased with grant funding, according to the press release.

Applicants will have to identify the restaurant or restaurants from which they will be purchasing meals. To receive funding, the partner restaurants must have 50 or fewer employees and maintain a physical commercial location in New Jersey, among other criteria.

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 gratuity cannot be paid for using grant funds, according to the press release.

While the restaurant may charge any amount, the award amount will be capped at $10 per meal. No other expense incurred by the grantee, whether in support of the meal purchase from the restaurant or otherwise, is eligible. Grant funding can only be used to support expenses incurred before or on April 30, 2021.

Applications for Sustain and Serve NJ will be available soon. More information about the program can be found at