Author Archives: Cynthia Vandenberg



Join Mercer Street Friends on Thursday, October 5, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. for A Tasteful Evening, The MSF Food Bank celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year and we honor Phyllis Stoolmacher, who has been the driving force in its growth over the years. This year’s corporate honorees are NRG and Johnson Kendall Johnson. Johnson Kendall Johnson is a benefits management company that has worked with Mercer Street Friends for many years. 

NRG has consistently provided the Food Bank with volunteers and recently purchased two trucks to support the Food Bank’s efforts to pick up salvageable food from local grocery retailers to be distributed to the Food Bank’s network of Food Pantries, Meal Sites and programs such as Send Hunger Packing, which provides school kids from low-income families with weekend meal packs. 

This year, A Tasteful Evening will be held at Mercer Oaks in West Windsor, NJ. The evening will begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m., including hors’ de oeuvres, wine, and beer; a seated dinner follows the reception at 6:30 p.m. 

Tickets are $125 each and may be purchased by clicking



United Way of Greater Mercer County Organizes Volunteers to Strike Out Hunger

Volunteers from Mercer County gathered at Sun Bank Arena in Trenton on Tuesday, June 27, ready to make nutritious and filling individual oatmeal packs at the Third Annual Strike Out Hunger Event.

Strike Out Hunger is a campaign headed by United Way of Greater Mercer County (UWGMC) with a goal of raising money and donating food to help keep children whose families struggle with food insecurity from going hungry during the summer months when school-based feeding programs are not available. This year, United Way of Greater Mercer County partnered with Mercer Street Friends Food Bank for Strike Out Hunger.

UWGMC donated the proceeds of the Strike Out Hunger campaign to Mercer Street Friends Food Bank and other hunger-relief organizations in Trenton. The Food Bank will distribute the oatmeal packs and other donated food to food pantries and meal sites, to seniors through its mobile pantry, and to children through its Send Hunger Packing Program (SHUP).

“We are grateful to the United Way for asking us to partner with them on Strike Out Hunger,” said Armstead Johnson, executive director of Mercer Street Friends, “It was exciting to see first-hand the enthusiasm of the volunteers and the United Way staff.”

Cambridge School Repeats as Winner of Students Change Hunger Governor’s Cup

Congratulations to Cambridge School in Pennington, NJ, winner of the 2016 Governor’s Cup! This is the second time that Cambridge School has won this prestigious service award, given to the school that collects the most food for its local food bank throughout the competition.

In addition to collecting food, students are required to educate their peers and community about hunger and create their own marketing campaign to support the food drive.

Mercer Street Friends is grateful to all the schools in Mercer County that participated in Students Change Hunger and proud that once again one of our local schools has won this prestigious statewide award.


New Executive Director Armstead Johnson Takes Helm at Mercer Street Friends

The Mercer Street Friends Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the selection of Armstead G. Johnson to be executive director of the organization. Mr. Johnson takes the helm of the community-based, Quaker-affiliated organization on Monday, June 6th, succeeding Dr. Shannon M. Mason.

Mr. Johnson has a strong record of leadership at non-profits similar to Mercer Street Friends (MSF) in mission, and a wealth of experience in youth development and anti-poverty programming. He comes to MSF from the United Community Corporation (UCC) in Newark, where he was executive director. Like MSF, the UCC is an anti-poverty organization that has been a cornerstone of its community for over 50 years.

Before leading the UCC, he was executive director of All Saints Community Service and Development Corporation, which serves at-risk youth in Hoboken and Union City. His professional experience includes working with the Boys & Girls Clubs and the Urban League, and advocating for people with disabilities. Mr. Johnson also served social service agencies in Plainfield, Orange, West Orange, and Clifton.

Mr. Johnson received his B.A. degree in Political Science from Howard University and an M.A. Degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University-Newark. He also received a certificate in Executive Non-Profit Leadership from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Dr. Delia Pitts, Vice-Chair of MSF’s Board and Chair of the Search Committee, noted that the committee members were especially impressed with Mr. Johnson’s fundraising experience, his engaging personality, his extensive supervisory experience in a variety of leadership roles, and his optimism about the future of Mercer Street Friends.

Dr. Shannon Mason welcomed her successor, saying, “I have loved and labored for Mercer Street Friends for almost fourteen years, and I could not be happier about the choice of Armstead. He has proven to be an innovative leader who can make the hard decisions and build from challenging places. He is smart, experienced, charismatic, and compelling; he will be good for Mercer Street Friends and for the City of Trenton.”


“I am excited to join the Mercer Street Friends team,” said Mr. Johnson, “Together we will continue the good work MSF has been providing those most in need in the Trenton Community.”


The Jubilee Center of Hoboken Annual Beloved Community Celebration honoring John H. Wessling, III of Haven Savings Bank at Amanda's Restaurant. 4/3/2012, Hoboken: Hoboken,NJ 4/3/2012 photo by Joe Epstein/

Armstead Johnson