With the advent of fall nearly upon us, thoughts may turn to pumpkin-picking and the upcoming holiday season. It’s also the time of year when Lunch Break relies on the generosity of compassionate community members on behalf of the food- and financially insecure – those who may never have the luxury of treating their families to the traditions of the autumn season or celebrate a Thanksgiving meal with turkey and trimmings.
It’s the official launch of the Adopt-A-Family Program, and Lunch Break, the food pantry and social service agency at 121 Drs James Parker Blvd., needs your help in providing holiday meals for food- and financially insecure families. This year’s goal is to sponsor more than 1,000 families.
For too many in our neighborhoods, empty dinner plates are a frightening reality as we emerge from a COVID-19 pandemic. Subsequently, its ramifications continue to reach deeper into our economy. Since March 2020, Lunch Break has seen steady increases in the number of people requiring direct assistance to put food on the table. Grocery pickups and number of meals distributed have risen exponentially since 2019 and continue to climb. As of January 2022, Lunch Break already has served more than 64,000 meals and has seen more than 14,000 grocery pickups to date.
“COVID-19 has certainly been challenging for Lunch Break. In 2020, we were suddenly faced with more new clients and our pantry and kitchen, already stressed from continuous modifications during the height of the pandemic, required additional pounds of food to accommodate the influx,” said Kathy Williams, Director of Community Engagement.
While meeting increasing demand remains a constant juggling effort, Williams is mindful of the community’s unwavering support. “We say this often: We could not have continued our mission to break the cycle of hunger and poverty without our dedicated volunteers, staff, Board members and, of course, the generosity of our community.”
The organization’s innovative solution to ensure families enjoy a traditional and meaningful Thanksgiving and holiday season took shape in 2020 as the Adopt-A-Family Holiday Meal Program, with Drive-By Food Donation Drop-Off at its location in Red Bank. Those wishing to donate can simply drive up to the collection point and release their car’s trunk or hatch door. Lunch Break volunteers will remove the items and take the donor’s information if a receipt is needed.
To sponsor a family or families this season, Lunch Break is requesting reusable tote bags filled with non-perishable holiday meal items such as yams; instant mashed potatoes; canned corn, green beans and gravy; Jello; muffin, pudding and cake mixes; and prepared frosting. Donations will be accepted from 9:30 a.m. to noon on the following dates: Oct. 5, 12, 18, 20, 25 and 29, and Nov. 2, 9, 11, 15, 19 and 22.
Lunch Break is a 501(c)3 organization located in Red Bank, NJ, providing food, clothing, life skills, and fellowship to residents of greater Monmouth County. All Lunch Break services are free. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. www.lunchbreak.org
Photo credit – Lunch Break – St. George’s by the River, Rumson, 2021