Three long tables were set up in a U-shape in the back of the firehouse on Saturday, when over 30 volunteers, firefighters and EMTs, alongside community members, stood shoulder to shoulder handing out free hot buffet style meals to the Trenton community.
Kenneth Douglas, Director of Trenton Fire Department, brought this event over from his previous Director job in Orange, NJ. “This is something I did in Orange. (The Trenton Fire Department) did something like this before but not to this magnitude… We have a lot of people who were affected by COVID and around the city that could use a hot meal,” Douglas said.
In the back of the Trenton Fire Headquarters on Perry Street, runners waited for a flood of Trenton residents to come and give them directions on what food they wanted from the buffet.
“We understand that COVID is still in effect, and we want to protect the firefighters as well as people coming into the building,” said Naseeb Washington, Communications coordinator for the TFD, “which is why we have COVID mandates for wearing masks inside and having members in gloves.”
Through donations from over 39 different vendors ranging from Trenton restaurants, TASK, and community members, there was no limit to how much food a single person could get. “It’s unlimited,” said Washington. “Whatever they want, we grab it, and we also give them a care package with toiletries, water, and information on the fire department, police department, and also towing education as well in the backpacks.”
There was a lot to give from yams to turkey to ham to stuffing to fresh-made coffee for Trenton residents as they left the Fire Department’s headquarters. “It’s heartwarming that this is part of the fire department’s community cares,” said Mayor Reed Gusciora, who was one of the many local community members that attended to serve food at the fire department. “This is a critical time for fighting fires in the city, especially when the heating gets turned on, and firefighters have to go out. So it’s great that…the community is aware and familiarize themselves with the firefighters that serve the city.”
In total, about 1450 meals were given out throughout the day. The TFD also delivered 400 meals throughout Trenton to those who couldn’t make it out.
Trenton resident Roxan Vurke said “It’s amazing. It’s amazing because it feels like somebody really cares about the community, there’s a lot of people who are starving, there’s is COVID.”
All of the unused food was donated to a local food bank in Trenton.