Community Meal Site Coordinator Rosa Prada-Rodriguez, in blue shirt with lanyard, provides assistance to patrons lined up outside Bible Way Cathedral, a community meal site in South Trenton.
As hunger continues to surge nationwide, this has meant explosive growth for the TASK community meal site program – where three-quarters of our meals are served – and has prompted TASK to hire a new coordinator to better serve our neighbors in need.
Rosa Prada-Rodriguez, formerly a case manager with RISE, is TASK’s first-ever liaison for the soup kitchen’s community meal sites, which span the Greater Mercer County area and even include parts of Eastern Pennsylvania. Over the past year, TASK has delivered more than 300,000 meals to 34 community meal sites, including churches, senior housing centers, after-school program providers, community centers and nonprofit partners.
Hired in January, Prada-Rodriguez has already begun to grow TASK’s footprint. This summer, we will add another low-income senior housing center to our list, this time in East Windsor.
Besides identifying food-insecure neighborhoods which are not yet being served by TASK, Prada-Rodriguez is working with a growing number of sites who are asking for more meals, especially in Trenton, where many sites are experiencing the same surge we are seeing at Escher Street. One of our partners, a local church and food pantry, has recently seen a 25 percent spike in need, mainly families with young children.
Prada-Rodriguez is also working with existing community meal sites to help them provide even better customer service to our patrons as part of our commitment to radical hospitality.
Some sites are looking for more volunteers to help serve meals while others are interested in connecting with TASK’s many nonprofit partners who can provide additional goods and services including hygiene products, diapers, farm fresh produce, bakery items and social service support.
Ultimately, Prada-Rodriguez would like to see the community meal sites serve as a hub for other TASK programs and services, much like our Escher Street dining room does today.
“We want to make TASK accessible to everyone who wants to take advantage of what we have to offer.”
“I want patrons to be able to come to a site, know that it’s a safe place and have the volunteers be prepared to deliver resources and refer them to TASK or emergency services if they need to,” says Prada-Rodriguez.
Each month, Prada-Rodriguez visits TASK’s community meal sites to connect with leaders and patrons and get feedback, which plays an important part in how the sites are run, the types of food we offer and the resources we provide.
“Every site is different and unique. What works for one site may not work for others,” she says. “We want to grow with them, so we want to make sure the leaders running them are happy and receiving what they’re supposed to be receiving and if there are any issues, they’re communicating those with us.”
Prada-Rodriguez, a native of Peru, is a bilingual Spanish speaker, which is of critical importance, since many of our sites, including our Escher Street dining room, serve a rising number of Spanish-speaking patrons.
“She’s very outgoing and able to talk to people,” says Paul Jensen, TASK’s Chief Operating Officer. “Good communication is key when it comes to strengthening our community meal site partnerships, which remain a top priority for the soup kitchen in 2023 and beyond. We’re really grateful to have Rosa on board to help support our growth.”
Tag: Meal Service - Patron Services - Trenton - Trenton Area Soup Kitchen - Date Posted: Jul 3, 2023 - Author: Trenton Soup Kitchen