Saving Money and Saving Time – Teaming Up with Soup Kitchen 411 to Meet Growing Need for Meals in Mercer County

smokehouse

TASK Manager Food Services and Facilities Manager, Paul Jensen (l) is thrilled to receive a generous delivery from 1911 Smokehouse BBQ of Trenton, NJ. Around 200 extra meals to help supplement lunch for the day.

If you follow TASK on social media, you may have heard of Soup Kitchen 411. They are one of TASK’s newest meal service partners and lately they’ve been working double time to connect soup kitchens to generous restaurants with a desire to donate meals to communities during a time when access to food matters most.

To date, Soup Kitchen 411 has provided TASK with nearly 2500 meals which have helped to supplement its meal production amid a growing need for food in the Trenton area.

Soup Kitchen 411 first began partnering with TASK in April shortly after the soup kitchen suspended all outreach engagements and the use of its main dining hall on Escher Street to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Trenton. Manager of Food Services and Facilities, Paul Jensen, recalls receiving his first call from Soup Kitchen 411 one morning and being asked whether TASK would be able to take in 200 meals from Revere Restaurant in Ewing Township, NJ the next day.

RevereItalianRestaurant
TASK’s first donation coordinated through Soup Kitchen 411 came from Revere Italian Restaurant in Ewing, NJ. The restaurant provided lunch bags complete with chips and sandwiches.

The partnership has since picked up momentum, with Soup Kitchen 411 consistently coordinating food donations at TASK, sometimes making a large delivery of meals at least once each week. In the past three months, food donors have included Teddy’s Restaurant in Cranbury, NJ, 1911 Smokehouse BBQ in Trenton, NJ and Gennaro’s Italian Restaurant in Hamilton Township, NJ.  Soup Kitchen 411’s most recent delivery to TASK was from Stella’s Pizzeria in Ewing, NJ, a generous donation of 200 sandwiches to provide a tasty surprise for patrons who now receive two meals from the front doors of TASK headquarters each afternoon.

But it is not only time and money Soup Kitchen 411 is helping to save at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK), the organization is also helping to address one major environmental

food waste prevention
Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora (r) joins TASK Executive Director for a brief address to patrons and staff members during statewide Food Waste Prevention Day during National Hunger Action Month in September 2019.

issue that has recently risen to the surface in New Jersey: food waste. Last fall, during Hunger Action Month in September, TASK celebrated the statewide Food Waste Prevention Day with a visit from Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora. The soup kitchen also implemented a salad bar that would help kitchen staff recycle fresh produce unused during meal preparation each day. Just this Spring, Governor Phil Murphy passed new legislature requiring many of the state’s largest food waste generators to employ new methods of recycling food garbage. In a way, Soup Kitchen 411 is doing their part to fight food waste using a unique “Neighbors Feeding Neighbors” model- the organization provides an easy-to-navigate web-based directory of soup kitchens across the United States who communicate their needs to neighbors with the capacity to give. They then coordinate hassle-free deliveries to soup kitchens, bridging families in need to essential food resources. In some cases, the meals that are re-purposed and donated to soup kitchens would otherwise turn to food waste, being discarded into methane gas-producing landfills.

We would be remiss if we didn’t show appreciation to our friends at Soup Kitchen 411. Over the last three months, they’ve been instrumental in helping TASK to meet it’s rapidly growing meal production, which has increase at least 70% since the soup kitchen first suspended the use of it’s main dining room on Escher Street in March. TASK looks forward to continued partnership with Soup Kitchen 411 as we strive to meet the increasing demand for food in our Mercer County community.

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