Todd Jackson, a 57-year-old Trenton native found himself at TASK’s door after his release from county jail. He was struggling to find work and with no prospect of an income, he could not afford to buy food. After hearing about TASK through word of mouth – as many of our patrons do – he came to us for his first meal.
Initially, he came just for the food; then he discovered the TASK computer lab and began to use it for job searches; but he struggled there too. Then, our program manager referred him to our employment specialist and things began to change.
TASK’s specialist helped him craft a resume, told him of job fairs he could attend, and soon Todd landed the first job he’d had in years. That was five years ago.
Now, motivated by his success, Todd is searching for a second job – a paycheck that could fuel his passion for music. A jazz enthusiast who plays the bass guitar in an R&B band and often leads open jam sessions during TASK’s music program, Todd is saving up for a stand-up bass and lessons. He hopes this purchase will land him a spot in a jazz band, commencing a whole new world of possibilities.
Jackson’s journey is not unusual at TASK. He is among the 75 percent who in our recent survey credited TASK with making their lives better and the 76 percent who said eating at TASK helped them save money – funds they could put toward other necessities, such as housing, medicine and transportation.
His story is why our meal service program is so important to the TASK mission. After his physiological need for food was met, Jackson began to look around, and discovered TASK could feed him in any number of other ways.
Today, while Jackson is working, making ends meet with his custodial job at a local supermarket is still a challenge. He continues to dine at TASK along with the 32 percent of patrons who said they rely on TASK meals at least three times a week and the 45 percent who said TASK is their only food source.
In all, TASK served more than 400,000 meals last year. While that 8 percent increase from the prior year denotes growing food insecurity in Mercer County, it also is an opportunity for TASK to continue its support of someone like Todd who not only received food for his body, but fuel to pursue his best life.