ATLANTIC CITY – At its monthly meeting Tuesday, Jan. 19 the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority Board of Directors approved a $1.5 million grant to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey to support and sustain increased food distribution through 2021.

Funding will supply nearly five million meals in Atlantic City and greater Atlantic City area over the next 12 months.

“Helping to feed families in need in Atlantic City is fundamental to recovering from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic,” board Chairman Robert Mulcahy said. “Through this funding commitment, the CRDA will continue to partner with key stakeholders to address food insecurity and service Atlantic City residents and casino employees adversely affected by casino closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Last year, the CRDA funded roughly $1.14 million in grants that addressed food insecurity in Atlantic City through the support of large-scaled food distributions throughout the city. These efforts focused on assisting out of work or furloughed casino employees as well as Atlantic City residents, resulting in more than 65,000 people being assisted with more than two million pounds of food distributed from May 2020 through December 2020.

“The approval of this grant will continue to build upon the foundation established from last year’s efforts to address food insecurity and will address key areas of programmatic expansion, community network investment which include the 65 emergency food distribution organizations in the greater AC area and investing in expanding the capacity of food delivery through fleet expansion to meet the increased food demand,” CRDA Executive Director Matt Doherty said.

Funds will be used to continue large-scale food distribution events at Bader Field on a monthly basis for the first two quarters of 2021, with the intention of transitioning and reducing service levels by 25-30% each quarter. This will occur in tandem with the ramp up of support to local food network organizations to become prime locations for food procurement.

The CRDA Board also approved the execution of a collective bargaining agreement with Teamsters Local 331, which represents approximately 50 member of the Special Improvement District Division for the period Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2023.

“The Teamsters agreement is a win for CRDA Special Improvement Division employees,” Mulcahy said. “The labor force in any organization is its greatest resource and providing full-time employment will not only maximize the resources (in Atlantic City) throughout the year, it will eliminate cyclical  unemployment for those individuals.”

“We have a commitment to reducing social inequalities and it was important for us to identify and take the opportunity to address those matters within our own workforce,” Doherty said. “We are proud to have a favorable agreement with these SID employees to help improve their economic well-being through benefits and access to health insurance.”

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.