Like many in our community, Maplewood residents Matthew Gray and Terence Noonan wanted to find a way to help families struggling to make ends meet due to coronavirus, sheltering in place, and the faltering economy. “We wanted to reach as many families in need as we could,” said Noonan.
They reached out to Maplewood Mayor Frank McGehee, who put them in touch with Karen Weiland, Director of the Parenting Center for the South Orange Maplewood School District. The Parenting Center was already providing groceries and gift cards to local families in need, and was interested in expanding the program.
Weiland told them about a new initiative started by Luke Finn, owner of Coda Kitchen, to deliver restaurant meals to food-insecure families. At Weiland’s suggestion, Noonan and Gray made it a mission to get more restaurants to donate meals so they can expand the number of families they can help. “We went to restaurant owners we knew, and then started cold calling others,” says Noonan.
The response was fast and amazing. Parkwood Diner, David Burke at Orange Lawn, Liv Breads and Jackie & Son all volunteered to donate. Once the food is ready, Gray and Noonan pick it up from restaurants and deliver directly to the families.
“The restaurants provide each family with meals for 4 people, so that’s 144 meals,” says Noonan.
Currently, 36 families have participated. By the end of the week, the program will increase to 51 families and 204 meals.
You can make a donation to this initiative at Rent Party.
If you’re a local restaurant who wants to participate, please email Mgray@weichert.com.