Mercer Street Friends Secures Food for Hunger Fight – L.A. Parker Column

Mercer Street Friends secures food for hunger fight (L.A. PARKER COLUMN)

L.A. Parker – The Trentonian

A line queued on Hamilton Ave. then wrapped onto Chestnut St. in Trenton as Mercer Street Friends offered family food bags for any person approaching a distribution area.

Rain threatened and gray skies compressed feelings as another day demanded that families find food.

Bags of food exchanged hands as volunteers offered greetings, smiles and plastic bags packed with food stuffs.

No questions. No identification requirements. Only a need for help served as a prerequisite for this hand up during these days that challenge us and expose those living in the age of both food and life insecurity.

CoVid-19 has uncovered a shadow society, people living on the edge of hunger, people being swallowed up by death and poverty.

Bernie Flynn, CEO of Mercer Street Friends, broke from his do-anything-to-help chores then offered an assessment about his organization’s Food Bank and the increased numbers of people in need.

“The need (for food) continues to increase. That’s our observation and that’s why we’ve been working hard at Mercer Street to supply the food pantries, food kitchens and help anyone who needs support,” Flynn explained.

“We’ve added this emergency meal bag program that you see in action. And, we’ve partnered with the Trenton School District to take over some of their meal distribution efforts. We quickly pivoted to partner with the Capital Area YMCA, which is doing a wonderful job, to get the food out to people who need it.”

Throughout Trenton and Mercer County. nonprofits talk of unimaginable numbers of people in need of food.

Friday, May 15th, marks the ninth week that Mercer Street Friends volunteers and staff, in partnership with the City of Trenton, Triumphant Life Community Church, and Capital Area YMCA, distributed Weekend Emergency Food Bags to individuals and families in Trenton.

Mercer Street Friends joins a network of agencies that make contributions to the food chain.

“There’s food out there but you have to know where to go and when. For some, there’s just a small window of time and opportunity for them to show up. The one great thing is that the community has come together,” Flynn noted.

Flynn said Mercer Street Friends and other non-profits have managed to “fill many gaps” associated with food needs.

In fact, Mercer Street Friends and other agencies enjoy amazing support from donors, volunteers who have stepped up their giving game during a pandemic that unleashes death and despair.

“The giving community has made an incredible difference, stepped up in a major way. And, you know, that’s been the history of people in Trenton, Mercer County and this region,” Flynn praised.

The Mercer Street Friends Food Bank channels 2.7 million pounds of food and groceries annually to a network of 80 local food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, meal sites, schools, senior and disabled programs, and low-income housing sites.

Food distribution and hunger prevention programs reach over 30,000 people who face the pain and indignity of hunger.

Flynn said Mercer Street Friends has received tremendous support from over 1,200 donors in the past several weeks.

“And we are grateful for every one,” he added.

Last Friday, Mercer Street Friends distributed 1,092 Weekend Emergency Food Bags.

Hunger had been arrested — at least for one weekend.

To donate food, volunteer or inquire about how to become an agency member, call: 609-406-0503 or email foodbankinfo@mercerstreetfriends.org.

Friday — read about a Capital Area YMCA food effort that feeds thousands daily.

L.A. Parker is a Trentonian columnist. Find him on Twitter @LAParker6 or email him at LAParker@Trentonian.com.

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