For the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK), 2017 will be a year of growth in more ways than one. In 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 more room for workshops in literacy, math, science, resume 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 feed the hungry without having to cancel crucial programs during busy times.

Feeding the hungry is an undertaking that has been growing for the soup kitchen steadily over the past decade. Just a few years ago, TASK served roughly 190,000 meals in Greater Trenton. In 2016, it served more than 290,000.

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, and Princeton. Development and Community Relations Coordinator J Steinhauer says TASK’s Meal Service Program now has 14 locations around Mercer County.

The growing meal count also includes TASK’s Send Hunger Packing Program, a collaboration with the Mercer Street Food Bank and local schools to feed more than 400 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 through Thursday and one meal on Friday, plus meals through its satellite locations around the county every day. Once people are fed, Steinhauer says, nourishing their minds and souls is the next step to getting them back on the road to self-sufficiency.

“Feeding people is just the first step,” he says. “But we’re so much more than a soup kitchen.”

The staggering amount of work TASK does is even more considerable when you realize that only 28 people are on staff. The remainder are thousands of volunteers, whom Steinhauer says TASK could simply not do without. “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.

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