On Saturday, September 24, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) will host a community BBQ to commemorate its 40th anniversary and its first-ever weekend meal service.

TASK invites the public to stop by 72 ½ Escher Street to enjoy delicious food from the TASK kitchen at this outdoor, tented event that will also feature live music from TASK’s house band, The FunkTASKtiks, and family-friendly activities courtesy of the Isles T-Recs Truck.

This event marks a major milestone for TASK, which was founded by community organizers in 1982. What began with the service of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the basement of the First United Methodist Church of Trenton—now Turning Point United Methodist Church—has evolved into an 8,000 meal-per-week operation that serves at 34 sites throughout the greater Mercer County area, including its Escher Street dining room in Trenton. Today, in addition to meal service, TASK also offers case management, adult education, job search, and creative arts programs.

“While it’s difficult to call this a ‘celebration,’ since it’s hard to rejoice in the fact that hunger is still an urgent issue facing our community, it is also important to recognize and applaud all of the heroic contributions that have made TASK what it is today,” says Joyce E. Campbell, TASK Executive Director. “We thought, what better way to observe our 40th than by inviting the Trenton area community—the people we serve—to come together at TASK to enjoy good food, good music, and good company!”

In addition to marking this important point in TASK’s story, this event will also serve as the launch of TASK’s weekend meal service.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, several things have contributed to a surge in food insecurity, with many people experiencing hunger for the very first time in their lives. Increases in the price of gas, rent, and groceries, along with unprecedented inflation, have contributed to a significant rise in the demand for food relief programs like ours,” explains Campbell. “We hear from so many people that the meals they receive from TASK are what enables them to pay their rent, utility, and medical bills. Seniors living on fixed incomes, folks with disabilities, and families are struggling the most right now.”

Campbell continues, “Over the past few months, it has become very clear that a weekend meal at TASK is critical to those who are facing these impossible choices every day. We are proud that, with the support of our dedicated donors and volunteers, we are able to open up on Saturdays to serve.”

While this Saturday’s meal service might look a little different than those that will follow, a meal at TASK is always warm, nutritious, and served with care.

At 1:00 pm, those who wish to join are invited to move indoors for a brief ceremony that will feature reflections on TASK’s history and an opportunity to recognize several important contributors. In addition to a dedication to the late Bruce Howard, a long-time staffer who passed away during the pandemic, TASK will honor three young volunteers with the President’s Volunteer Service Award. TASK will also recognize Assemblyman Dan Benson for his work on identification with the Advocate of the Year Award, and consultant Irwin Stoolmacher will receive the Geltzer Family Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award for his decades of work helping to guide TASK’s development.

This event is being brought to the community with the help of NJM Insurance Group; Reilly Financial Group, LLC; Customized Benefit Solutions, Inc.; Integrity Staffing Solutions; Princeton Partners; The Br’Island Group, LLC; Lear & Pannepacker, LLP; and Pennington Quality Market.