FEED THE COOKS: TASK Board Trustee Helps Give Kitchen Staff A Reprieve During Pandemic

TraceyTracey Destribats has been on the TASK Board of Trustees for so long that after the 25-year mark, she stopped counting. So, it’s no surprise that during a recent conversation with a friend about doing good deeds for local front-line heroes working through COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, the soup kitchen staff came to mind. On March 16 TASK joined the nation-wide effort to stem the spread of COVID-19 and closed the doors to its dining room. But as Destribats acknowledged, “hunger doesn’t go away,” so the essential kitchen staff switched gears and began serving meals to-go from TASK’s front door on Escher Street – part of Trenton’s frontline.

“When you think of this battle against the virus, there are so many others out there just doing what they do,” Destribats said, “The workers in the supermarkets, the garbage collectors and the TASK kitchen staffers who show up to work every day to make sure people are getting fed.”

On the surface, Destribats’ contribution might seem simple, but a closer look reveals a whole network of people working to feed the hungry, no questions asked, no matter who they are – an act at the heart of TASK’s mission. It started with that initial chat Destribats had with a friend – Megan O’Donnell, the head of FLAG – Hamilton, an arm of the nationally known Front-Line Appreciation Group which networks to feed people caring for others while helping restaurants stay in business during the pandemic. O’Donnell led Destribats to Vin Hunter, a local FLAG member and co-owner of the Classic Sub Shop, an eatery on Route 33 in Hamilton. Hunter said his shop has been raising funds to help feed “anyone in need” but mostly targeted staffs at hospitals and nursing homes. Destribats wanted to do something for TASK and Hunter was looking for others he could help.

“I didn’t even think of this whole line of people out there like the folks at TASK who continue to go to work during all of this,” Hunter said. “Wow.”

With Hunter’s help Destribats orchestrated a 150-sandwich donation to the TASK kitchen staff – more than enough to give those who cook and prepare meals for thousands of others, a little reprieve.

“We ate, enjoyed it, and went right back to work,” said TASK Kitchen and Facilities Manager Paul Jensen, adding that 125 sandwiches were given to the Rescue Mission of Trenton and the remainder divided among staff. “It was great, and it made us feel appreciated. Thank you.”

After more than two decades of volunteer work with TASK, Destribats is more than familiar with the battle against hunger and food insecurity. And even with her long-time commitment to TASK and the dozen other organizations she’s worked with over the years, she says there’s always room to do more. 

“In this time when things are so uncertain, we want to provide stability wherever possible,” she said. “As a board member – as a human being – it’s important, more than ever, to do everything we can to help each other through this.”