Lunch Break to Host Foodstock to Fill Pantry for Summer

May 10, 2013
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RED BANK – Lunch Break, a Red Bank soup kitchen and much more, is holding its second annual Foodstock from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Red Bank Middle School at 101 Harding Road.

During its 30th anniversary year of fighting hunger in Red Bank and surrounding communities, Lunch Break is calling on those in the community to help stock the pantry shelves for the summer months, traditionally a difficult time of the year to collect donations.

The event will include refreshments, activities for children and live music.  Also participating and handing out books, will be Bridge of Books which has the mission of providing an ongoing source of gently used and new books to underprivileged and at-risk children throughout New Jersey in order to support literacy skills and to encourage a love of reading. Clients, volunteers and all Friends of Lunch Break are invited to spend the afternoon enjoying good music, good food, good friends and their families.

The idea for the event came about in the fall of 2011 when the Swisher family of Freehold Township held a Foodstock event in their back yard and collected more than 13,000 pounds of food which they delivered to Lunch Break. Inspired by the Swishers and their generous friends and neighbors, Lunch Break held its first spring Foodstock in 2012.

As it happened last year, during the weeks prior to this year’s Foodstock, schools, churches and other organizations will collect nonperishable food items and bring them to the school where they will be weighed and counted along with the donations from individuals collected on May 18.

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Lunch Break freely provides life’s basic necessities for community members in need, including food, clothing and fellowship. In addition, holiday food baskets are provided to families, meals are delivered to the homebound, holiday gifts are distributed to children, an Internet café has been created to help job seekers, cooking classes are offer­ed to children, a community dinner is offered monthly and much more.

What began in 1983 in the basement of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, where hot lunches were served, was eventually expanded in 1985 to include distribution of groceries. In 2012 more than 56,000 hot meals were served and more than 7,000 bags of food from the pantry were distributed to families in need.

All of this is accomplished under the direction of the board of trustees and Execu­tive Director Gwendolyn Love, her staff, the generous support of the community and the willing hands and hearts of more than 2,000 volunteers.

But it is food that is in short supply during summer. Since the financial collapse of 2008, there has been an ever-increasing problem of food insecurity and hunger in our area.

According to Carlos M. Rodriquez, executive director of The FoodBank of Mon­mouth and Ocean Counties, “one in every 10 residents and two out of every five children” in our very own communities suffers food insecurity.

Lunch Break sees this reality every day. Although Lunch Break is one of the organizations that receives food stock from the FoodBank, the need in Red Bank and the surrounding areas is so great it must rely on its own food drives and appeals and on the additional food it purchases with donated money – approx­i­mately $40,000 annually. The community needs Lunch Break, and Lunch Break needs donors to help to feed the hungry.

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Items that are particularly needed for the pantry include: canned beans, dry beans and lentils; canned fruits, vegetables, soups, stews, chili, tuna fish and chicken; cereals;  coffee, tea and 100 percent fruit juices; boxed macaroni and cheese, mashed potato mixes, rice and rice mixes; mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and vegetable oil; pasta and sauces; peanut butter and jelly; salad dressings, individual portions of applesauce, pudding snacks and juice boxes; sugar, flour, cake mixes and icing; and pancake mix and syrup.

Because Lunch Break is celebrating 30 years of serving the community the goal for the 2013 Foodstock is 30,000 pounds.

Additional information is available by contacting Millie Jeter at 732-383-8005 or Susan Haugenes at

Lunch Break can be found at, reach­ed at 732-747-8577, found on Facebook and followed on Twitter.

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