With the advent of fall 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 celebrating 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 recover from the 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 numbers of meals distributed have risen exponentially since 2019 and continue to climb. As of January 2023, Lunch Break has served more than 62,000 meals and has seen more than 11,000 grocery pickups to date.
“As we emerge from years of struggling with the devastating economic realities of the pandemic, our financially insecure families are weary and stressed from having to choose between bills, rents or mortgages and food. We see more new faces every day, many who are without homes, seeking relief and opportunities for self-reliance through our food and financial services and Life Skills and housing programs,” said Executive Director Gwendolyn Love.
While meeting increasing demand remains a constant juggling effort, Love is mindful of the community’s unwavering support. “We could not continue our mission to break the cycle of hunger and poverty without help from 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 temporary warehouse location (968 Shrewsbury Ave, Door #5, Tinton Falls). 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 including canned green beans, stuffing, yams, instant mashed potatoes, gravy, canned corn, muffin mix, cake mix and prepared frosting. Bags will be accepted from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays from Nov. 1-20th, 2023.
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
Photos by Lunch Break- Cover is Last year’s holiday food donations from St. George ’s-by-the-River Episcopal Church in Rumson.