Apr 15, 2023
Author: Trenton Soup Kitchen

Renewing Our Commitment to the Community

A Letter from Executive Director, Joyce E. Campbell

Hopewell Presbyterian Church Photo
Michael and Beverly Mills (second and third from left) of Hopewell Presbyterian Church present a check to TASK staff and Kathy Schroeher (second from right), Vice Chair of TASK’s Board of Directors.

For nearly a year, TASK has engaged our patrons, staff, and community stakeholders in a thoughtful series of discussions concerning TASK’s role in the community and our future potential. During this time we have strengthened and sharpened our focus as we have continued to combat a surge in hunger caused by rising prices, an unstable economy and the looming end of many emergency pandemic-related benefits.

Perhaps most importantly, this process has provided an opportunity to reflect on what makes TASK so special. As I watched more and more people come to us for assistance during the holiday season – for everything from food to toys to items necessary for survival in these harsh winter conditions – I was also privileged to send so many thank you letters out into the community to recognize people like you for your enduring support.

This process has also helped to crystallize TASK’s hallmark commitments to the community, which in turn serve as the underpinning of our new strategic plan.

Serving with Dignity. Dignity is at the very core of TASK and has been a guiding principle since our very first meal was served 41 years ago. This longstanding commitment is the inspiration for us to establish the concept of “radical hospitality” as an organizing theme for all of our services and programs. Building off our belief that everyone is welcome at TASK, no questions asked, we believe it is our obligation to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

Fostering Equity. Our commitment to equity derives from our recognition that we cannot work toward ending hunger without addressing its root causes. TASK believes that every member of our community has a fundamental right to access nutritional food. In addition, we must serve as a model and work to foster diversity of our staff, leadership and Board.

Pursuing Advocacy. TASK is a powerful voice on behalf of those impacted by food insecurity and poverty. We believe it is our obligation to raise awareness to issues related to hunger and its underlying causes as well as offer solutions to these systemic problems. TASK is committed to amplifying the voices of those affected by food insecurity in our effort to promote food justice.

Thought Leadership. TASK possesses the talent, passion and expertise to answer the most important questions related to hunger, food insecurity and the impact of poverty. We are committed to keeping the focus on the issues that are central to the people that we serve, in order to continue our mission to feed the people of the Trenton area and provide the programs and services necessary to enhance self-sufficiency and improve quality of life.

These commitments are central to our philosophy at TASK, and, in my mind, what distinguishes us in our approach to serve the community. But, in the vein of thought leadership, it is also time for us to admit that hunger is a multi-faceted problem, rooted in poverty, that cannot be solved in a vacuum.

Here at TASK, we recognize that hunger is complicated. We often say, “Hunger is a big problem, and we think bigger.”

Recently, a February edition of Food Bank News featured a guest opinion written by Brian Greene, CEO of the Houston Food Bank. In a piece entitled, “Food Insecurity Isn’t About Food; Here’s What to Do About It,” he wrote, “When we provide food to a family we are also helping them to pay for rent, utilities, or other expenses. This means that food insecurity isn’t really its own issue. People show up in our lines because food is generally their most flexible expense… It’s therefore little wonder that we see income insecurity manifesting so often as food insecurity.”

Food must continue to be at the center of what we do: it’s fundamental to survival, and TASK has the experience and capability to meet the need in our community, even as that need increases.

Food is a transformative entry point for so many of our neighbors in need, often the first step on the path to self-sufficiency.

People come to our dining room first for nourishment, and that’s where they connect with our other programs and services — like case management, adult education, job search, and creative arts — that help turn hunger into hope.

As we continue to roll out new, innovative plans that “think bigger” (including some featured in this very newsletter), we invite you to partner with us on this journey. It is our enduring partnerships with individuals, local businesses, religious organizations, civic groups, and government officials that hold the key to unlocking our potential.

I am pleased to share that we have already received one such commitment from our friends at Hopewell Presbyterian Church through the Alex and Eunice Sharipen Endowment Fund. Long-time supporters of TASK, Pastor Melissa Martin reached out to me last year to ask about how they could help. We discussed a number of ideas in the strategic plan, including TASK’s need for space to meet the growing need within the community and the potential to obtain new, additional space in Trenton. Pastor Martin encouraged TASK to “think big” and the congregation responded accordingly with a tremendous gift in the amount of $75,000!

I am so personally pleased with the thoughtful research and discussion that went into this strategic planning process, and I am confident that our goals will enhance the lives of so many people. I am excited to work with you, our staff, our patrons and our volunteers to work towards ending hunger and making Trenton a place where everyone can thrive.


Tag: Advocacy - food insecurity - hunger - Improvements - Meal Service - Partnerships - Patron Services - poverty - Success Stories - TASK - Teamwork - Trenton Area Soup Kitchen - Date Posted: Apr 15, 2023 - Author: Trenton Soup Kitchen