For more than 41 years, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) has never turned anyone away for a meal. This year, the soup kitchen has served a record number of people, culminating in a busy, but meaningful, December.
This year’s Christmas celebrations kicked off earlier this month with the annual performance by Holiday Express. For two decades, this NJ-based nonprofit has partnered with TASK to share their signature program featuring a musical extravaganza led by volunteer musicians, holiday-themed activities and gifts for all. The concert was a highlight of the season and a true celebration of community that brought joy to hundreds of people.
In addition, TASK also hosted its popular adult giveaways as well as a week-long holiday shop to benefit local families. Hundreds of households received holiday gifts and much-needed items to ensure that everyone could unwrap something they love this holiday season.
On December 23, TASK served its “Christmas Eve” meal, sponsored by the Muslim Center of Greater Princeton. (TASK is closed on Sundays, so we will honor this tradition a day early.) Each year, the Muslim Center’s kind-hearted volunteers help pack and serve hundreds of holiday meals at TASK’s Escher Street dining room as part of our Forever Meals program. This year’s menu features crab-stuffed tilapia with rice pilaf and broccoli. The Muslim Center’s reason for giving is simple: “Christmas Eve should never be a day to worry about your next meal.” Diners also got a free holiday haircut, courtesy of On the Go Barbers 1 Charity.
On Christmas Day, TASK will be open from 10:30 am to 12:45 pm to serve a special meal with holiday cheer, including clam chowder soup and a main dish featuring the kitchen’s signature prime rib, asparagus spears, and roasted potatoes. Because there aren’t any options for most people later that day, TASK will ensure everyone leaves with a dinner to go. As always, all are welcome, no questions asked.
TASK’s holiday activities are even more critical today than ever as hunger surges to unprecedented levels nationwide. The U.S. Agriculture Department’s most recent report indicates that nearly 17 million households across the country are experiencing food insecurity, an increase of nearly 3.5 million households in just one year. The problem is even more acute in places like Trenton, where 27% of the population (and 37% of resident children) are living below the poverty line.
“The holidays can be a joyous, but trying, time for many people, especially here in Trenton. This past year, we have seen so many working families coming to us for support, struggling to make ends meet,” says TASK CEO Joyce Campbell. “It brings us so much pride to be able to spread joy this December. Food is just the starting point. With the support of our generous community, TASK has been able to make the holidays special for hundreds of people across the area.”
TASK, which has been serving the Mercer County region since 1982, serves nearly 10,000 meals, six days per week, in Trenton and 35 community meal sites throughout Greater Mercer County. In addition, TASK offers many resources to encourage self-sufficiency and improve quality of life, including case management, education, workforce development, creative arts, and the provision of necessities.