TASK Joins Mercer Street Friends Food Bank and Two Trenton Public Schools to Fight Hunger in Vulnerable Communities

Mercer Street Friends

FIGHTING HUNGER IN VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES: Families in Trenton line up to receive free summer meals from the Mercer Street Friends (MSF) Food Bank. For the next eight weeks, TASK will partner with MSF to serve summer meals to families at Gregory and Rivera Elementary Schools in Trenton’s North Ward. * Photo courtesy of Mercer Street Friends Facebook.

TASK has partnered with Mercer Street FriendsFood Bank (MSF) to distribute meals from two new summer satellite sites in Trenton, NJ: Gregory Elementary School and Luis Munoz-Rivera Community Middle School. 

The initiative offers TASK an opportunity to fight hunger in a deeper way. Both sites are among many locations distributing free summer meals to students through the Summer Food Service Program(SFSP). TASK will supplement food provided by Mercer Street Friends through its SFSP sponsorship with additional meals to help feed other hungry family members too.  The Rivera distribution location is at the Calvary Fellowship Ministries (166 Old Rose Street – Trenton, NJ) in its parking lot.   

“Gregory Elementary School is in the West Ward and Luis Munoz-Rivera Community Middle School is in the North Ward which are two of Trenton’s most vulnerable communities. The meals delivered by Mercer Street Friends can help fight childhood hunger during the summer when kids can no longer depend on the National School Lunch Program for food,” explains TASK Kitchen and Facilities Manager, Paul Jensen. “But it’s safe to say that, in these economically distressed communities, the need for nutrition is not only faced by children.” 

Nearly 90% of students enrolled at Gregory and Rivera Schools are eligible to receive free and reduced meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), which suggests, according to program guidelines, that many surrounding households may receive an income below 130% of the federal poverty level–approximately $34,000 for a family of four in New Jersey. Limited financial resources could likely mean having to choose between food or other essential living expenses. In many cases, maintaining a balanced diet can fall on the backburner. 

The nutritionally balanced summer meals prepared by TASK will be free, delivered to both pick-up sites on Mondays, Wednesday’s and Fridays, from 10:30AM to 12:30PM and they will be available on a first come, first serve basis to all. 

“TASK is excited about this new partnership with Mercer Street Friends as it demonstrates how, together, we can ensure Trenton families have nutritious food for the day during the summer,” adds TASK Executive Director, Joyce Campbell. “TASK and MSF have partnered before, but we are looking forward to more opportunities to work together during these critical times.” 

While TASK holds a longtime relationship with Mercer Street Friends of more than 30 years, the soup kitchen’s collaborations with Gregory and Rivera public schools are fairly new and part of TASK’s most recent efforts to feed more families in Mercer County amid the COVID-19 public health crisis. Aside from the schools, TASK is also delivering meals to Trenton’s senior housing developments, the Trenton Covid Recovery Center and to Homefront which distributes meals to homeless persons living in motels. 

Ensuring that our area’s most vulnerable have the resources to thrive is a community effort and we’re proud to work with TASK to do so.” stated Bernie Flynn, Chief Executive Officer, Mercer Street Friends. “Partnering with TASK we can, together, increase access to food which helps children and their families particularly during this pandemic.  With good nutrition we want to help families move past hunger and aspire to self-sufficiency. TASK and MSF share this commitment and will continue to partner to make Mercer County stronger.”  

“What we are doing here on site at TASK right now is nominal compared to what we are doing across Mercer County through our partnerships with other community-based organizations, social service agencies, and satellite sites we previously established to assure that no one goes without basic nutrition during what has become an incredibly challenging time for so many in our community” Jensen added. 

TASK’s summer meal initiative at Trenton’s public schools, specifically, is supported by Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)funds made available through the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Relief (CARES) Act. Together with Mercer Street Friends, TASK will continue to deliver meals to Gregory and Rivera School locations through the end of summer. 

If you need a meal or for more on all summer food distribution sites for children click here.  

Based in Trenton, NJ, for 38 years, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen feeds the hungry and offers programs to encourage self-sufficiency and increase the quality of life of its patrons. TASK provides more than 325,000 weekday meals a year at its main location and 16 satellite partner kitchens and works with Mercer Street Friends to provide weekend meals for more than 1,700 children who attend 40 local schools throughout Mercer County