For 36 years, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen has been feeding and helping Trenton residents of all ages and have been serving the people of Trenton on Escher Street since 1991. This soup kitchen is one of the most vital institutions in the Trenton community.
One of their most popular days includes the upcoming holiday, Thanksgiving Day.
“TASK serves 200-300 people on Thanksgiving,” said J Steinbauer, the Manager, Development and Community Relations Coordinator at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.
Around 75 volunteers help out on the day of Thanksgiving, but the meal is normally prepared/precooked in advance of the day and finished on the morning of with help from volunteers, according to Steinbauer.
TASK volunteers come from the Mercer County Bucks County area – each year they get a mixture of help. The College of New Jersey and other schools around Trenton sends students to volunteer at TASK. Other volunteers include workers from the Community Work Experience Program, workers who are fulfilling their community service obligations for the Mercer County or Trenton court system, and patrons who want to give back and help out their own community and the people they share their community with.
Preparations for this big holiday begins a month beforehand, when food baskets start being put together and necessary food for this holiday starts getting donated and collected. In addition to serving patrons a hot meal for dinner on Thanksgiving, Task hosts an “Adopt A Family” Thanksgiving program.
“Each year, TASK packages and handouts nearly 300 Thanksgiving baskets filled with turkey, stuffing, and all the trimmings so families can cook a nutritious Thanksgiving meal from the comfort of their home with their loved ones,” said Steinbauer.
Trenton Area Soup Kitchen is known for their no questions asked policy. Anyone who comes seeking a meal or additional services offered, they are happy to help as long as it’s within their hours of operation.
“There is no limit to how many people we can and will serve, but we will only hand out one meal and some leftovers per person—having this rule allows us to have enough for everyone,” says Steinbauer.
Every year, TASK raises its money anew, so they are always in need of donations to consistently keep food on their tables. During the holiday season however, there is always a large jump in donations and the majority of donations the soup kitchen receives is during the season of gift-giving.
“The summer is normally slower,” reported Steinbauer. “But we still receive gifts, just less—but we are grateful for whatever comes in whenever it goes. Our supports are the heart of TASK and their support keeps us going.”
TASK also celebrates other holidays and does their best to serve holiday-appropriate meals when certain ones come up. TASK is open every weekday Monday through Friday – so if a holiday falls on a weekday, they will usually have some kind of celebration for that day.
“We make daily announcements, and sometimes have special meals in honor of the day– for instance sometimes hamburgers and hot dogs on the fourth of July. We try to celebrate every holiday as TASK acts as a family to many of the patrons we serve,” Steinbauer stated.
Each year, TASK helps thousands of people in need. Not only do they provide food, but they distribute jackets, socks and other winter items in the weeks leading up to the winter. TASK also provides hygiene kits which includes soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and disposable razors, full-time, on-site referral services where a specialist helps patrons with life sufficiency issues such as housing, medical assistance and advocacy, employment, and substance abuse rehabilitation. Additionally, TASK provides adult tutoring and medical services. Their website states that, “a variety of healthcare providers offer blood pressure screening, HIV testing and counseling, and other medical support services during our regular meal times.”
Visit www.trentonareasoupkitchen.org for more information on other services provided and how you can help volunteer and donate to those in need.