Lunch Break’s kitchen staff stands ready to again serve in-person guests. (Lunch Break photo. Click to enlarge.)

(Press release from Lunch Break)

red bank, nj, done good,After 15 months of operating as a take-away facility because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Red Bank’s Lunch Break is again offering its guests seated meals onsite, the food security and social services resource announced Wednesday.

“It’s like coming home again after being away for such a long time,” says Lunch Break Executive Director Gwendolyn Love.

Lunch Break’s dining room, in its facility at 121 Drs. James Parker Boulevard, is once again fully operational and open for business as usual and guests will have a chance to reunite with their friends for food and fellowship six days a week.

During the pandemic, the dining room was closed to the public, with a small staff including the Culinary Director Tyrone Burr, Assistant Chef David Neal and a handful of frontline volunteers, preparing grab-and-go meals for distribution.

“I get emotional just thinking about seeing all the wonderful faces in our beautiful dining room after such a long hiatus,” Love says. “I knew we’d see this day – after months of social distancing and precautions and safeguards for clients, volunteers and staff – when we’d all be together again.”

Free breakfast and lunch are offered as both dine-in and grab-and-go meals. For those wishing to dine indoors, masks must be worn while moving about the dining room.

Breakfast is served grab-and-go only from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays; lunch is offered in the dining room from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., Monday to Friday and grab-and-go from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday Community Dinner is served from 6-6:45 p.m. in the dining room and from 6-8 p.m. for grab-and-go.

For many clients, dining indoors with family and with friends after a year of uncertainty is a godsend.

“No one ever told me life was going to be easy or growing old was either, but fortunately for me and many others there are kind and generous people who are drawn to those that are in need,” says a client. “Lunch Break is an oasis – when all seems very dim and out of reach. I am so very glad we met.”

Many volunteers who, for health and/or employment reasons, were unable to help with meal preparations and service during the pandemic, are excited to return to see friends and extended family once again.

“I’m sure that the clients are looking forward to the opportunity to enjoy their meals with some friends and friendly conversation,” says volunteer Lew Kurland.

For those volunteers who bravely and consistently served for so many months, Love and Board President Philip Antoon have nothing but gratitude.

“These volunteers risked their lives to serve, and did it so willingly, because they knew there was a great need for life’s basic necessities,” says Antoon.

“And we never missed a meal,” recalls Gwen, referring to Lunch Break’s service record during the peak of the pandemic. “And we hope and pray we never will.”