The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched the resources of nearly all organizations – businesses, organizations, not-for-profits. All are trying to figure out how to adapt in this rare situation, and Family Promise is no different.

We found that we had to reimagine our Network program to continue to bring in families, yet keep them and our volunteers safe. And so we have placed families in hotels so that we could begin working with them and, during the past weeks, one of the families has moved into one of our New Leaf apartments and, with our help, another moved into an apartment of their own. Active case management continues, albeit in new and different ways. Zoom is a part of everyone’s lives at this point!

We continue our Walk-in Dinner program in Hackensack. In the “Old Days” – you know, more than ten weeks ago – we would provide dinners to those who lived in the county shelter in Hackensack, every night of the year. In order to keep the residents safe, however, all were moved to local motels. So, Family Promise adapted to that new reality and we now deliver meals to them . . . and we also provide meals to others living in the motels. And a number of community residents come to the now-vacant shelter facility to get their to-go meals. The number of meals each night has increased by over 65% in the last two months.

The issue of food insecurity in Bergen County is real, and growing. Family Promise was introduced to World Central Kitchen, the non-profit founded in 2010 by the prominent chef Jose Andres to provide meals in the wake of natural disasters. WCK agreed to provide 400 meals six days a week for two weeks for Family Promise to distribute in Englewood – those weeks went fast!

WCK added a third week and, we just found out (as I am writing this letter) that they have decided to provide meals for a fourth week! This means that meals worth $100,000 will be distributed in Englewood – on top of the meals provided in Hackensack.

We’re not just trying to blow our own horn. We think there’s a lesson here.

Family Promise of Bergen County’s primary mission is not feeding the hungry; it’s sheltering and assisting working families with children who have become homeless. We’re still doing that, by placing our clients in family-friendly hotel rooms equipped with kitchenettes, providing apartments for some, and by supporting them in various ways.

But this crisis has shown the need to help people whoever and wherever they are – even if they’re not in a family, not working, or childless. So we’re feeding the needy in Hackensack, surrounding cities, and Englewood – wherever there’s food insecurity. Wherever there’s hunger.

And we can do this because of the support of many – including our faithful volunteers and financial supporters. Thanks to you, we are meeting new needs as we continue to live into our mission.

Paul Shackford
President of the Board of Family Promise of Bergen County

PS –  In describing our dinner programs, an otherwise accurate article that appeared in The Record reported that the meals that are delivered to the motels are for families when in fact they are mostly for individuals who were temporarily relocated from the county shelter. The meals in Englewood are helping many families and individuals. To read the entire article click here.