In September 2021, Hurricane Ida swept through New Jersey and caused about $1 million in damage to CFBNJ’s Hillside warehouse and several of our community partners.
The pantry at Iglesia Jesucristo Es El Señor church in Elizabeth, a CFBNJ partner that normally serves 4,500 families per month, was all but destroyed by the storm. Eight feet of dirty floodwater ruined equipment and spoiled 15,000 pounds of food.
At the same time, many residents were dealing with utility outages or had just suffered extensive damage to their homes or vehicles. These unexpected losses came on top of already heightened need caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but CFBNJ stepped up to keep our neighbors fed. Our response to the disaster was comprehensive. We focused on addressing the damage to our own facility, supporting affected community partners, and providing emergency food to those in impacted areas.
REPAIRING OUR WAREHOUSE
Cleanup of our Hillside warehouse included water remediation, mud and debris removal, de-icing of a freezer unit, and significant repairs to the dock, as well as the roof and office floors. Despite extensive damage, we still managed to get our trucks out on the roads the morning after the storm to continue delivering food to our community partners.
SUPPORTING AFFECTED PARTNERS
Fifteen CFBNJ partners in Union, Middlesex, and Somerset counties were particularly hard-hit by the storm. We committed to helping them get up and running again by providing much-needed grants, repairs, and refrigeration.
FEEDING IMPACTED COMMUNITIES
We organized food distributions in badly damaged areas, like Elizabeth, where we served as a lifeline for 400 families in a single afternoon. In our community kitchen, staff, volunteers, and Food Service Training Academy students prepared more than 660 hot meals per day for a week, which were distributed by the Red Cross via mobile emergency response vehicles and at hotels where displaced New Jerseyans were staying.
LAUNCHING OUR RECOVERY CHALLENGE INITIATIVE
With storm and pandemic recovery ongoing, a generous donor has pledged $1 million over three years and is challenging us to raise additional funds towards CFBNJ’s emergency relief efforts. Amid unprecedented need, support for this multi-year initiative helps us to simultaneously offer emergency response, work with partners to build back communities, and increase our investment in historically under-resourced neighborhoods.