For the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK), 2018 will be a year of growth in more ways than one. Over the next several months, TASK will begin work to expand its facility, to allow for more room to serve meals, tutor its adult education students and help people in the community get back on their feet.
TASK will be adding more computers to teach adults computer literacy and to help them look for jobs and opportunities toward a better life. There will be more room for workshops in literacy, math, science, résumé writing and job counseling. There will also be more space for TASK’s arts and music programs, designed to enrich patrons’ lives in ways only the arts can.
The expansion also serves another purpose. By providing rooms dedicated to education and enrichment, TASK will be freeing up space to serve the hungry without having to cancel crucial programs during busy times.
Feeding the hungry is an undertaking that’s been growing for the soup kitchen steadily over the past decade. Last year, TASK served more than 357,000 meals to the Mercer County area – this represents a 21% increase from the prior year.
Part of the reason TASK’s meal service has grown is that TASK has ventured out from inner-city Trenton and into the surrounding communities of Hamilton, Hightstown, Yardville, Princeton and Bordentown. Executive Director, Joyce Campbell says TASK’s Meal Service Program now has 14 locations around the Mercer County area.
The growing meal count also includes TASK’s Send Hunger Packing Program, a collaboration with the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank and local schools to feed more than 1000 school children who have little food at home. TASK provides weekend meals to the children who qualify for the federal free and reduced school lunch and breakfast programs, so they can come to school Monday morning on a full stomach and ready to learn.
TASK serves two meals a day Monday–Thursday and one meal on Friday, plus meals through its satellite locations in the area throughout the week. Once people are fed, Campbell says, nourishing their minds and spirits is the next step to getting them back on the road to self-sufficiency.
“We’re so much more than a soup kitchen,” said Campbell.
The staggering amount of work TASK does is even more remarkable, considering only 28 people are on staff. TASK simply cannot do without its thousands of loyal and generous volunteers: “It’s thanks to our partners, volunteers and donors that we’re able to do as much as we do.”
TASK is always looking for people to help. To check out volunteer opportunities or to donate, visit www.TrentonSoupKitchen.org or call 609-695-5456.