September marks awareness campaign to fight hunger

New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy, left, bags meals with TASK Associate Director of Operations Paul Jensen. The First Lady’s visit came as the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen began serving meals to-go immediately after closing its dining room to help with efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19.PHOTO COURTESY OF TRENTON AREA SOUP KITCHEN
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New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy, left, bags meals with TASK Associate Director of Operations Paul Jensen. The First Lady’s visit came as the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen began serving meals to-go immediately after closing its dining room to help with efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19.PHOTO COURTESY OF TRENTON AREA SOUP KITCHEN

Next month kicks off Hunger Action Month and for the third consecutive year, TASK (Trenton Area Soup Kitchen) will join anti-hunger advocates nationwide, spotlighting the chronic struggle millions of Americans have with food access.

Created in 2008 by Feeding America, the largest U.S.-based hunger-relief, advocacy and education organization, Hunger Action Month is dedicated to encouraging everyone to effectively implement ways to alleviate and eventually end hunger and food insecurity, according to a statement provided by TASK.

Food access always matters, but at a time when more than half of New Jersey’s population – according to the U.S. Census Bureau – have lost jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, awareness is vital, according to the statement. While concern about food scarcity in the state has decreased since the beginning of the pandemic, still, nearly 700,000 New Jerseyans say they are concerned about where they will find their next meal. According to “The Impact of the Coronavirus on Local Food Insecurity” report by Feeding America, food insecurity for New Jersey’s children is projected to increase to nearly 20% based on projected growth in unemployment and poverty.

TASK fights hunger all year-round, but in September Trenton’s only soup kitchen takes added steps to spotlight this dilemma affecting nearly 40,000 Mercer County residents, of which 10,000 are children, according to the statement.

Since March, when statewide efforts began to stem the spread of COVID-19, the soup kitchen closed its main dining room and switched to serving meals to-go from its front door. Whether picking up a take-out meal at TASK’s main facility in Trenton or visiting one of its off-site meal services in a town nearby, TASK patrons receive hand-prepared meals that meet or exceed the USDA-recommended servings of dairy, fruit, vegetables, protein and grains, according to the statement.

Last year, TASK served more than 325,000 meals.

“TASKadvocatesforanyone experiencing hunger and food insecurity,” TASK Executive Director Joyce E. Campbell said in the statement. “Thisyear, however, with the many conversations on racial and economic injustice and coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, Hunger Action Month can put a spotlight on the challenges felt right here in our own backyard. Everyone is feeling the crunch of these times, but we can’t deny that disadvantaged communities have been the hardest hit.”

During Hunger Action Month, the soup kitchen will host various events and activities to inform and spotlight the many elements of hunger and food insecurity in the community. On Sept. 10, Hunger Action Day, residents are asked to wear orange, the official color for hunger relief. It is also the day city officials in Trenton will recognize the campaign with a proclamation.

On Sept. 17 TASK will acknowledge Food Waste Prevention Day which was designed in New Jersey to spotlight the tons of uneaten food that ends up in landfills, contributing to both hunger and environmental deterioration, according to the statement. Additionally, the soup kitchen has brought back its “30 Ways in 30 Days Hunger Action Calendar” – a road map to the many steps anyone can take to make a difference with daily acts that can contribute to the at-home fight against hunger and food insecurity.

Gather the family to learn how to decrease the amount of food waste in landfills. Watch the documentary “Wasted: The Story of Food Waste” on Sept. 13. Check out TASK on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter for links to streaming.

Tune in to TASK’s social media at 8 p.m. Sept. 22 for Hunger Action Month Trivia Night and a chance to win prizes. Look for @TASKSoupKitchen.

Tune in to TASK’s first-ever live cooking show on Sept. 27 on Facebook where TASK chefs will share helpful cooking tips. Look for @TASKSoupKitchen.

For more information, visit www.TrentonSoupKithcen.org.