Chef Andre Murphy has been feeding local communities since 2020—and he has no plans of stopping.
Murphy’s signature chicken-and-potatoes dish took off during a fundraiser sale at his local church that year. The idea to launch his Community Feeding Tour followed. Ever since, Murphy and his team have traveled around New Jersey to feed those in need.
So far, Community Feeding Tour has served over 15,000 meals in the Garden State—all free of charge. The program runs fully on donations and sponsorships from local businesses.
It’s “something every community can benefit from,” Murphy says of the tour, which visits the homeless, seniors and low-income communities.
On November 23, Murphy and his team are hosting Holiday Feasts at the Village of St. Peter’s (Pleasantville, at noon), the Housing Authority Senior Building (Pleasantville, at 2:30 pm) and Jeffries Tower Senior Apartments (Atlantic City, at 5 pm). They’ll serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal to an estimated 455 seniors.
“It’s a big day,” Murphy says. “The way we come together as a community puts a smile on my face.”
How did your feeding initiative get started?
Andre Murphy: It’s all built around my chicken-and-potatoes dish. My daughter pushed me to bring my dish to church, Grace Tabernacle Church in Pleasantville, in 2020. We ran weekly fundraisers where we would sell quarts and pints of Murphy’s chicken and potatoes. We would have anywhere from 40–60 containers of food, and they would sell out every week. The money went back to the church and helped them put in a new roof. People were coming from all over South Jersey for my chicken and potatoes.
And from there, you started the tour?
Yes! I always cooked and was always in the kitchen, but never did anything to take it [to a professional level]. After that summer, I created the Community Feeding Tour. It was 2020, during Covid, and we wanted to continue feeding people who were in need.
We gathered about 18 sponsors from local banks and colleges, and utilized the Salad Chef kitchen [in Pleasantville] so we had a place to make all of the chicken-and-potatoes dishes. We would show up to local churches in South Jersey and set up with enough food for about 100 people. By the spring of 2021, we began feeding communities weekly and had around 500 meals for people. Seniors, low-income families, the homeless community—those were the audiences we focused on feeding.
Why is the chicken-and-potatoes dish your signature?
My mom used to fix it for me when I was a little kid. She used to do stew chicken, so I just added the potatoes to it. My daughters came up with a little song for it, and that’s all she wrote!
What do you have planned for this year’s Thanksgiving tour?
We are doing three senior buildings and feeding around 500 seniors. We will have our full trailer, and our first stop is at noon. We decorate the spaces the night before and have a DJ there playing holiday music. Everyone dresses up in nice attire, and our staff likes to dress up for the seniors, too. We try to make this day really special for them. It’s a great feeling.
And how about the café you recently opened? What’s your mission there?
It opened Memorial Day weekend. We have been feeding first responders throughout our feeding initiative. It’s called Salute Café, and we cater to nurses, doctors, hospital staff and visitors. We are on the ground floor of Shore Medical Center in Somers Point. The offer presented itself, and we figured it was a great way to fuel our initiative.
Is there anything else in the works for the Community Feeding Tour?
Our Murphy’s chicken-and-potatoes dish has been FDA-approved, which will allow us to ship pallets and half-pallets out to communities. This will let us go from [being] a food trailer to a food distributor, and to having our own brand.
Next month, we are beginning our Racing to Feed initiative to highlight food insecurity. One part of it is our Freezer-Filled Fridays: Every week we will select a business, college or hospital in New Jersey and stock their freezers with our dishes so their employees can have some free meals. To register, people will be able to go online and submit a form for the chance to be selected.
Those interested in helping with the Community Feeding Tour can volunteer. Murphy says his team is also “always looking for donations and sponsors to further what we’re doing.”
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