Ridgewood HealthBarn wins Jefferson Medallion for Feed the Frontlines


RIDGEWOOD – The HealthBarn Foundation’s Feed the Frontlines and Helping Those in Need program was awarded the 2021 NJ Governor’s Jefferson Medal as one of the state’s outstanding community service volunteer groups.

The award recognizes the foundation’s initial effort to raise $ 100,000 to pay for local restaurants in prepare meals for frontline workers and food insecure people during the pandemic.

The Jefferson Medallion – often referred to as the Nobel Prize for Volunteering – is a United States Senate program founded in 1972 by former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as America’s highest honor for public service. It is administered in New Jersey by the Governor’s Advisory Council on Volunteering.

“Feed the Frontlines” was selected from 12 finalists statewide. The awards, in 22 categories, were presented on September 12 at the Grounds For Sculpture in Trenton.

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“Feed the Frontlines” qualified the Foundation for a $ 1 million phase 1 “Sustain & Serve” grant from the state last winter to employ local restaurants in the preparation of hot and nutritious meals for residents starving people of the region. The Foundation recently received a Phase 2 grant of $ 2 million from the state to continue these efforts.

Founder / Director Stacey Antine, Ridgewood Restaurant Owner and Program Participant Paul Vagianos attended the presentation; and Bergen County Commissioner and Food Safety Task Force Supervisor Tracy Zur.

“Our team of volunteers came together during the darkest time of the pandemic to help restaurants stay in business by providing hot and nutritious meals to the community, and we were proud of what we accomplished,” said declared Antine.

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Vagianos, who was instrumental in designing and launching the program through the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce, said the effort allowed restaurants to keep their doors open, extend working hours and hire more employees.

“Feed the Frontlines kept a lot of restaurants in business through a very dark time,” he said. “Without the constant stream of income from this program, many restaurants would have closed their doors. It was a lifeline for them.

Ridgewood HealthBarn received a prestigious Jefferson Medallion for its Feed the Frontlines program.  From left to right, at the awards ceremony: Ed O'Malley, Governor's Advisory Council on Volunteering and Community Service;  Paul Vagianos, owner of It's Greek to Me restaurant;  Bergen County Commissioner Tracy Silna Zur;  Ryan Gates, PNC Bank;  Stacey Antine of the HealthBarn Foundation;  and Michele Hayes, NJ Advance Media.

It is estimated that 400 volunteers were needed to deliver ready meals to soup kitchens and pantries during Phase 1. Antine said the Phase 2 program, which will be administered over six months, will require even more volunteer support.

Volunteers can register via Feed the Frontline site on SignupGenius.com.

Marsha Stoltz is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @marsha_stoltz

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