If you wonder, “What can one person do?” think of Jim McGrady. Jim has a long history of using his chef skills to help communities.
When he owned a restaurant in Ocean City, he frequently donated food to local shelters, rehabilitation programs, special needs kids and veterans’ groups.
When he began working at Maggiano’s Little Italy – where he picked up the nickname “Papa Jim” from the young employees – he revamped their charity strategy to help the chain donate millions of dollars to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Then, McGrady moved back to New Jersey and joined the Somerville Elks Lodge, which is a large contributor to the charity Jack’s Kids. He became involved in their charity work, and also used his experience to rebuild their charity strategy to help them raise 900% more donations than they had before.
Last year during COVID-19, McGrady retired from the Elks, but he wanted to continue to help Somerset County during the time of crisis. So, he connected his old friends and partnered with the Rotary club of Branchburg and started cooking at the Bound Brook Presbyterian Church and distributing meals to various churches and senior centers in Somerset County. As a result” Not Just Soup” program was started.
Many community groups are participating in this program. This became the Community Meal Program during the Covid pandemic. The Community Meal Program grew to meet the growing needs of the community.
Through the benevolence of the community, and without any government support, the Rotary Club and different participating organizations have been able to distribute more than 300 meals a week and have also started food pantry.
In addition to his work with “Not Just Soup” Jim has started “Papa Jim’s Comfort Kitchen”
Papa Jim’s Comfort Kitchen is a new culinary service to our community. Everyone that purchases meals is also helping McGrady to donate meals to hungry local families.