by Anne Mernin, Director of Outreach for Toni’s Kitchen
This winter marks the 35th year that Toni’s Kitchen will welcome hungry neighbors to a hot meal in the warm embrace of a community that cares. Guests arrive chilled and hungry and leave having had a healthy meal, time with friends, and the ability to connect with services. They leave with a lift in their step that speaks to the hope and support found during a shared meal.
As we enter the season of holiday gatherings, meals of abundance and resolutions for our year ahead, we at Toni’s Kitchen are looking forward as well. We celebrate the many successes that 35 years have brought – neighbors nourished, homelessness prevented, families strengthened – and we look forward to the work ahead. We know that food insecurity is reaching into new, previously stable, populations. Bus drivers, retail workers and grocery clerks cannot always afford the high costs of living in Essex County. They work hard but these neighbors often experience periods when putting healthy food on the table just isn’t possible.
So while we keep our ovens warm and our tables set for those who gather for a meal, we are also taking forward the lessons of 35 years of working with our neighbors. We are finding ways to use food to strengthen the resilience of families, seniors, and the diverse populations of residents with food need.
We stand on the shoulders of a generation of donors and volunteers who have made this work possible.
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