For over 30 years, Trenton’s Church of Christ, located at 411 North Clinton Avenue, has provided in-need members of the community with a full lunch on the second Saturday of every month. What normally consists of a large gathering with food and conversation in the fellowship hall of the church, has recently been reduced to an assembly line of bagged to-go lunches distributed for take out during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“With COVID, we’re getting a lot of new people,” said Ray Brown, a trustee member with the church. “We have people that lost their jobs or something like that and a number of them are families that have come here, even from other countries, and they may be out of work at this point. We can assist them as well.”
On the second Saturday lunch giveaways, the church sees around 90 to 100 people in need of a free meal. Often times, they are regulars from the close-by neighborhood.
Included in each meal is, “always a main piece, plus fruit, something to drink and also some dessert,” according to Brown. With Thanksgiving around the corner, the Church of Christ made last weekend’s lunch extra special by serving everyone a half of a rotisserie chicken, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, green beans and slice of cake. “It was a pretty packed bag this last Saturday,” said Brown.
The second Saturday tradition of giving meals started over 30 years ago when a former member of the congregation wanted to give Thanksgiving baskets away to in-need families of the area. “We would drive around in our church van and drop them off,” said Brown. “I think I was in my 20’s at the time.”
It wasn’t until Jimmy Wilson, another member of the church body, joined the church that they formed the consistent offerings of a lunch on the second Saturday of every month. “He himself was homeless at one time, so he knew what it was like,” said Brown.
Although the church has had to readjust the meals for a to-go style service, they have found a process that has worked smoothly for the operation. Brown said, “It kind of becomes a well oiled machine.”
Brown continued, “Saturday morning by 11:30 a.m. we start passing the bags out for each of the individuals that come up.” That same day, those receiving meals can also get free clothing across the street from the church’s clothing ministry.
The Church of Christ has three properties adjacent to each other. According to Brown, the church has plans in the works to expand the offerings outside of food to clothing, and even a place to wash clothing.
“They could come in and wash their clothes; I think it’s going to be offered twice a month,” said Brown. “It’s something that we’re working out with the city to find out how to get all the licenses and so forth [that] we need for something like that.”
The church is hoping that as this new initiative unfolds, it helps not only serve the communities immediate needs, but helps prevent individual need in the future. Brown said, “It’s great to be able to help people with a one time thing or just regularly, but if you can get people prepared to be able to help themselves, that’s even better.”