Volunteers at the soup kitchen served an estimated 1,00 meals Thursday, including 600 to the homebound, said chef Tyrone Durr.  (Click to enlarge)


The scene at Red Bank’s Lunch Break on Thanksgiving was enough to warm anyone’s heart – volunteers serving heaps of steaming food to those in need, who received it with smiles and words of thanks; a hustle-and-bustle kitchen serving hundreds over four hours; and a proud staff overseeing the operations.

Volunteers were not hard to come by. Executive Director Gwendolyn Love said so many would-be helpers began calling as early as September that she eventually had to cut off the list. She was so happy for each of them coming out to “pour out their love to people who need help.”

Love was a theme that coursed throughout the day. Councilwoman Kathy Horgan, who was on hand volunteering, said that in light of the Hurricane Sandy devastation so many people have gone through, “it makes you feel so good to see people pull together with love.” Shelah Nealon, another volunteer, said she was just so “happy to share my day with others.”

Also on hand was newly minted volunteer effort Storm Chefs, a group of eight chefs who provide culinary relief to those affected by hurricanes and other storms – funded 100 percent by donations and always free. Founder George Mandakas brought grass-fed beef from Fossil Farms and organic produce from all over New Jersey. The organization was quickly formed after Hurricane Sandy going from “idea to dinner in 48 hours,” according to Mandakas.

With corporate and community sponsors, Mandakas’ goal is to build a mobile kitchen and to get rid of the bureaucratic barriers to get the meals to the people in need as quickly as possible. Mandakas’s mission is “all about community, brotherhood and sharing,” he said.

Executive chef Tyrone Durr of Lunch Break said he expected to feed over 1,000 people yesterday. That figure included 600 meals sent to the homebound delivered by the Pilgrim Baptist Church. Thanks to Storm Chefs, Durr said he was able to feed more people and will have leftover produce.

And what about the food? According to one attendee, “it was the best Thanksgiving meal ever.”