From The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Blog
Friday, November 5th, 2010
Based in New Brunswick, NJ, Elijah’s Promise is much more than an emergency food service. From nutritious meals, to social services and health screening, as well as culinary arts job training and catering, Elijah’s Promise focuses not just on hunger but on the whole person.
When Elijah’s Promise submitted an application to us this year, we were impressed with their attention to the land-people-food connections in their work. Not only have they made a commitment to the buy fresh, buy local movement, they have put great effort toward convincing other New Jersey emergency food services to offer fresh, local foods to their clients as well. In fact, thanks to Elijah’s Promise, seven percent of the $1 million in purchases at the Tri-County Auction (the Central Jersey farmers’ produce market) is now made by emergency food providers.
Elijah’s Promise is also creating local gardens to supplement the food they purchase from area farmers, including a land lease at Honey Brook Organic Farm in Pennington, New Jersey (the country’s largest CSA located on land owned by StonyBrook-Millstone Watershed Association). This effort increases the connection between people and their food, develops skills and job pathways for local residents, and helps Elijah’s Promise explore the best of urban growing models.
In addition, the urban produce will help supply Elijah’s “Community Café,” which extends their sustainability principles and practices deeper into the community.
The Better World Café, one of a handful of community cafes in the country, is located in the Quilt Room of the Reformed Church of Highland Park and represents a social enterprise partnership between Elijah’s Promise and Who Is My Neighbor? Inc.
The café model is based on preparing and serving seasonal foods in ways that can be adapted to various customer budgets. Customers may pay a suggested price or something different. If customers pay more, they help feed someone else who has more limited resources. There are also options for volunteering time in exchange for a meal, dining on the complimentary dish of the day, or combining the complimentary dish as part of an overall meal. The model is also built on helping global neighbors by sourcing fair trade coffees and teas.
And all of this is only part of their work. You can see why we’re impressed – and why Elijah’s Promise is so important to a strong local food system for the people in and near New Brunswick.
If you live in New Brunswick or have an interest in food systems work, we want to bring your attention to the “Good Food For All” event on December 11th. All are welcome to come learn about and discuss together the issues related to creating a stronger local food system in New Brunswick. The event features guest speaker Mark Winne (Closing the Food Gap, Food Rebels), workshops and other activities. You can see the full details of the event here.