One out of eight people in New Jersey is food insecure, which means they lack an adequate, consistent supply of food. It is worse in Trenton, and the Covid-19 crisis has caused even more people to be food insecure.
Loaves and Fishes and other UUCWC programs provide the food needed to sustain the lives of these individuals, while we work to change the systems that allow hunger to exist in a 21st century United States. For over 30 years, UUCWC and the UU Congregation of Princeton (UUCP) have joined together to provide meals to the homeless, working poor and families in Trenton. Since other sources of sustenance are closed over the weekend, Loaves and Fishes provides meals donated by area congregations. We have served these meals on one weekend each year.
In 2020, UUCWC and UUCP cobbled together last-minute meal plans as the stay-at-home order was just implemented. We were able to provide 250 boxed lunches from Subway, juice boxes, fruit and UUCWC home-made brownies.
This year, we came up with a new plan. Beginning in January and working with B.A. Cagney, the Loaves and Fishes coordinator, we decided to provide 400 brown bag lunches and 300 meals. UUCWC and UUCP split the effort. All items in the meals were made in people’s homes and then delivered to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Trenton for distribution. In total, our congregations made 400 PB&J sandwiches and baked 30 dozen brownies. We also purchased fruit juice boxes and fruit for the 400 brown bag lunches. Our children worked with their families to make the sandwiches and bake the brownies at home.
For the cooked meal, 11 cooks from our congregations made 600 Southwest Chicken thighs for 300 dinners. Potato salad, coleslaw, rolls, butter, a water bottle and home-baked brownies were packed up for the Saturday Take-Out Meal for the Loaves and Fishes guests.
In pre-pandemic years, we provided 600 brown bag lunches and 500+ hot meals for Loaves and Fishes guests at St. Mary Cathedral in Trenton. We weren’t able to be together in UUCWC’s Crossing Room and kitchen making bagged lunches; however, volunteers gave their time and provided the ingredients to make sandwiches, bake brownies and cook chicken.
THANK YOU to UUCWC’s many volunteers for enabling Loaves and Fishes to provide life sustaining food during this pandemic. We know that, for that one weekend in March, the guests at Loaves and Fishes did not go to bed hungry.
Ronnie and Ed Dobrowolski
Social Action Co-chairs