Elijah's Promise provides resources for New Brunswick residents in need
Elijah’s Promise is a nonprofit organization operating in New Brunswick that is committed to providing support for a wide range of community members: homeless, unemployed and working poor.
Associate Director Anthony Capece said the organization began in the late 1980s.
“It was the effort of three local churches coming together and having a rotating community soup kitchen,” Capece said. “We are a food systems agency and our mission is to harness the power of food to change lives and break the cycle of poverty.”
The effort grew into an organization that also provides social services, a clinic, a culinary school, community gardens, a "food recovery" service and a marketplace for members of the community to sell food or other products it made, according to its website.
Capece said its gardens grew approximately 897 pounds of fresh produce for its community kitchen this year, and its food recovery service saved more than 10,000 pounds of food from being thrown out in a handful of schools in New Brunswick.
Additionally, it has ventured to create self-sustaining businesses that make a positive impact on the New Brunswick community, Capece said.
“We have three main social enterprises that we operate here. Promise Catering — we do a lot of institutional catering,” he said. “We make the meals for the 'meals on wheels' chapter here in greater New Brunswick. We currently are making the meals for the senior center in New Brunswick and additionally, we have contracts with local preschools to make breakfast and lunch for kids.”
Its second social enterprise works to strengthen the community in New Brunswick while also finding ways to create economic opportunity, Capece said. Elijah’s Promise works with New Brunswick Tomorrow and CoLAB Arts, two social justice organizations, to operate pop-up markets from April to October.
“We really wanted to create a program, a festival, a celebration that really embodies who makes up the majority of the city. Lots of arts performances, cultural performances like dance troupes and actually vocal arrangements. Really importantly we create economic development,” Capece said.
Capece said for its third social enterprise, Elijah’s Promise has partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to combat food waste by recovering edible food that would otherwise be thrown out.
“We are currently still in the middle of that project, but the idea is to take leftover produce from farmers throughout the state — food that they would either throw out, donate or just generally get rid of,” Capece said.
The food waste is turned into new products, like ketchup or sauces. The program assists farmers by creating a new way for them to make money and lower waste, Capece said. Elijah’s Promise is adapting to fit the needs of the community and the continuously changing economic landscape.
“It is really hard to just get stability and then also brace for rising housing costs, rising food costs and rising transportation costs. It’s a lot to handle at once and it’s very stacked against people in poverty,” he said.
Despite structural obstacles, Capece and Elijah’s Promise remain steadfast in their commitment to serving the community.
“Every day I am inspired by the work that we do here, feel blessed to be able to do this work and think about really innovative ways to help this community through the power of food,” Capece said. “(I’m) just really thankful to a part of a staff who challenges me every day to be my best and to work together to be our best for the community.”
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