NPO Lunch Break Celebrates 40 Years Of Serving NJ: 'A Hand Up, Not A Hand Out' For A Fourteenth Of NJ's Population

Bridget Mulroy

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NPO Lunch Break Celebrates 40 Years Of Serving NJ: 'A Hand Up, Not A Hand Out' For A Fourteenth Of NJ's PopulationPhoto byLunch Break

Lunch Break is a community-driven outreach program founded by Norma Todd in 1983. The organization offers social service resources to individuals and families living at or below the poverty line. Unlike government-funded welfare organizations, Lunch Break relies on generosity from within the community to give less fortunate people living in Monmouth County (and surrounding communities) hope.

This past March 14, Lunch Break celebrated 40 years of serving as a community counterweight on the scale of balancing finances and everyday expenses. The NPO has improved the lives of thousands of people by providing access to food, shelter, toiletries, medication, education, career training, transportation, and so many other resources.

Plenty of New Jersey residents have found themselves struggling to afford ‘necessities’ as prices increase and income remains stagnant. Since the beginning of this year, food and financial assistance benefits have expired for many New Jerseyans, which has increased the number of people in the state now straddling the poverty line.

Unfortunately, many people who are fortunate enough to have these basic needs met, often take the things they have for granted. Life is unexpected, and situations can change at any time, but unless someone is staring a problem in the face, the potential for misfortune is often overlooked.

“In New Jersey alone, 657,320 people, including 175,830 children, are food insecure, according to a 2022 Feeding America and Hunger Free New Jersey report. That means 1 in 14 individuals and 1 in 11 children live in homes without consistent access to adequate food.” According to a press release from Lunch Break

Furthermore, “In 2022, Lunch Break saw an unprecedented demand for groceries, with more than 24,000 food pickups. Same holds true for meals, with more than 10,000 meals delivered to the homebound and 12,000 to the Pan American motel in addition to the 96,000-plus served. Continental breakfast and lunch are offered six days a week and Community Dinner on Friday.”

In short, the 2022 US Census reported 9,261,699 people living in New Jersey. Of that 9,261,699 people, 657,320 of them are struggling with food insecurity. Over 200,000 of those people are senior citizens, and over 175,000 of those people are children. This accounts for more than a fourteenth of the people in New Jersey.

Lunch Break is located at 121 Drs James Parker Blvd. in Red Bank, NJ. While their services have been disbursed within the area following the completion of a $12 million Capital Campaign in 2022 to expand the current facility, everything is expected to be under one roof again by November 2023.

Lunch Break is filling the gap for hundreds of families who have to sacrifice buying food to afford their bills. Lunch Break believes, “As long as hunger and poverty exist, so will Lunch Break.”

“What Mrs. Todd and the early volunteers created out of love for their neighbors is actually a great love story and I'm so excited there is interest for others to know about those early days. There was a movement, a call to action, to meet a need in the community to feed the hungry. And from that labor of love developed an awareness of other challenges to be met.” – Gwendolyn Love, Executive Director at Lunch Break

“Lunch Break is a 501(c)3 organization located in Red Bank, NJ, providing food, clothing, housing solutions, life skills, and fellowship to residents of greater Monmouth County. All Lunch Break services are free. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. www.lunchbreak.org” – Lunch Break

Ways to help, donate, and volunteer can be found on the Lunch Break website.

Links:

https://lunchbreak.org/

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Hi, I’m Bridget.👩🏻‍🔬 I write about geology & botany... rocks & plants. 🪨🌱🌋

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