The soup kitchen prepares to serve through winter during pandemic
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced TASK to close its dining room in March, the soup kitchen did not stop serving meals and providing services. Instead, staff at the Escher Street facility literally began serving the community from the soup kitchen’s front and side doors. That was fine when the weather was warm, but now that temperatures have dipped into the 20s, changes to better accommodate staff and the new season, had to be made.
“Essentially we added two walk-up windows,” said TASK Assistant Director of Operations Paul Jensen,” This gives our staff more protection from the elements and better adherence to social distancing guidelines. And not having doors open and close all day is much warmer and more energy efficient.”
TASK’s side door – the place where patrons came to get everything from a kind word to referrals for social services after picking up their meal – is now closed. A new sliding exterior window was installed earlier this month in the office of Patron and Volunteer Services. Patrons can walk up to the window and receive the same services provided from the side door. Sliding windows have also been added to the front interior entry doors, allowing staff to pass meals packaged to-go to patrons via a thru-way.
“It’s working out well,” said TASK Patron and Volunteer Services Specialist Evie Spadafora. “It’s certainly warmer and the patrons seem to like it.”
The new walk-up windows, open 10:30am-2pm, Monday-Friday, are part of the soup kitchen’s preparation for the winter months in the wake of the pandemic. In addition to the works done at the Escher Street facility, TASK has joined its long-time partner The Rescue Mission of Trenton in launching the Trenton Collaborative Warming Center opened on December 6. The center is a 4,000 square foot extension of the Rescue Mission of Trenton’s emergency shelter and can house up to 60 additional people this winter.