TASK is nearing the end of its 40th anniversary year, a milestone for a community organization that was once itself homeless and pushed into the shadows—a story not unlike that of many of the people we serve.
It has been a bittersweet time, knowing that hunger and food insecurity continue to exist forty years on. However, like those we serve, TASK’s resilience, and the support of the community, have triumphed over adversity.
What makes an individual or an organization bounce back when it seems impossible? I have three seemingly simple answers.
We know what works. Many ponder the solutions to hunger, homelessness and poverty, wishing for a magical solution to end this once and for all, but TASK knows what helps the vulnerable thrive: it’s receiving a nutritious meal to stave off hunger; finding a place to live that’s affordable and safe; having a purpose, be it to create art, find a job or be someone’s friend. Yes, this does take money, but poverty is expensive, too, when we overlook the simple things that work.
We have to work together. This is the beauty of our community, with each unique stakeholder doing what it does best to benefit the common good. TASK takes a “melting pot” approach—one that blends volunteers; donors; businesses, large and small; government programs and funds; social service organizations; and the experts. At TASK, we listen to the experts, particularly those who are living, or have lived, through the experiences that the rest of us are trying to improve. TASK knows this works.
We advocate for each other. Advocacy should not be confused with politics. As Janna Cachola wrote, “Advocacy is empathy, compassion and community at work.” It’s based in caring for others, caring enough to understand the issues and empowering the experts. Telling stories is advocacy—a way to turn hearts and minds. At TASK, we advocate by telling our patrons’ stories and helping them to tell their own.
This Fall, the White House hosted its first conference on hunger in over 50 years. Senator Cory Booker, State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Congressman Andy Kim all held roundtable discussions to inform the conference agenda. I proudly represented TASK at all of them. There, I advocated for the role of soup kitchens, like TASK, that can provide a holistic approach, informed by the experts, at the frontline of hunger.
TASK also worked closely with Assemblyman Dan Benson, who led an assembly committee that stood in support of a TASK expert, patron Derrick Branch, who shared the obstacles he faced during the identification process. This led the way for changes to be made.
Every day at TASK we feed the experts, and we endeavor to listen and learn from them. Likewise, I encourage all of you to listen with your hearts to those who are living in hunger and poverty and to take that one step further by lending both your support to TASK and your compassionate voices to advocate for what works.
Tag: 40th anniversary - Advocacy - Meal Service - Partnerships - poverty - Date Posted: Dec 1, 2022 - Author: Trenton Soup Kitchen