Bare shelves indicate a critical shortage of food items at Lunch Break’s Red Bank facility. The charitable nonprofit that marks 30 years of service in 2013 is putting out the call for more food donations in advance of its October fundraising gala. (Click to enlarge)
Press release from Lunch Break
Founded in 1983 as the first Monmouth County soup kitchen and pantry by a group of concerned citizens, Lunch Break is currently the largest and most accessible such facility. Today, Executive Director Gwendolyn Love, her staff, and more than 2,000 volunteers continue that original commitment and so much more — but even as the nonprofit prepares to celebrate 30 years of service to the community, the director points out that “our resources are critically low.”
“With summer vacation over and the push to get kids back to school and the signs of fall popping up everywhere, at Lunch Break the sign of fall is bare shelves in the pantry,” says Love. “The toughest times of year for us are September and October, as well as February and March, where we face critical shortages. We try to plan for these months, but with the daily increase in demand for our services, when the food is gone, it’s gone. It’s heart wrenching to plan and not be able to meet the need.”
“Unfortunately, it’s a sign of the times,” said Love. In a study released last week by the Legal Services of the New Jersey Poverty Research Institute it was concluded that over two million people in New Jersey struggle to meet their basic needs. This represents a significant increase of over 300,000 since the beginning of the economic recession.
A month ago Lunch Break was forced to reduce the amount of groceries provided to families from the food pantry, prompting Love to oberve that “it’s an overwhelming feeling…if we don’t get food, people are going to go hungry. We’re almost to the season of giving, but we’re not quite there yet.”
Love added that many don’t know that Lunch Break is Monmouth County’s first and most accessible soup kitchen and food pantry, and this year celebrates 30 years alleviating hunger. “Our guests come from near and far—from Keansburg, Keyport, Union Beach, Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant, Neptune, and Asbury Park—to name a few. We are open six days a week and we are so much more than a meal to so many.”
“Our Suited for Success program last year outfitted over 125 individuals for job interviews, and we accept new and gently used clothing. We provide families with holiday food baskets at Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas, we offer cooking classes for children, a toy program for children over the December holidays and we partner with over a dozen local social service organizations to provide health screenings, visual testing, affordable housing referrals, veterans assistance, and more, all in our facility in Red Bank,” said Love.
Tickets are available for the annual Lunch Break Gala, scheduled for October 21 at the Navesink Country Club from 6 to 10 pm. Lunch Break is located at 121 Drs. James Parker Blvd. in Red Bank, and can be reached at 732-747-8577. For more information about Lunch Break visit www.lunchbreak.org.