THE CRANFORD-ELMORA SOUP KITCHEN TRANSITIONS TO A MOBILE SOUP AND SANDWICH PICNIC LUNCH
The Cranford-Elmora Soup Kitchen has been a mainstay in the city of Elizabeth since 1989. As the Soup Kitchen enters it’s 31st year of service, nearly 140,000 meals have been prepared and served every Sunday afternoon at the First Baptist Church in Elizabeth. Soup Kitchen guests have relied not only on the nourishing hot meal that they receive every week, but also the friendly and compassionate caring acts of kindness that the many volunteers from all different Houses of Worship have provided to make the guests feel welcome and important.
As the Covid-19 pandemic began to accelerate at the end of February, the Soup Kitchen Team decided that changes had to be made in order to ensure the safety of the guests and the volunteers. Even with the closing of the First Baptist Church, the need for the Sunday meals was still there, with the thought that the need would continue to grow as the virus continued to raise its ugly head.
Thus, the Cranford-Elmora Soup Kitchen Mobile Soup and Sandwich Picnic Lunch program was born. Since the first weekend of March, more than 2,200 bagged soup and sandwich picnic lunches have been distributed to our guests. Early every Sunday afternoon, a team of volunteers gathers in Bates Hall, the large gym attached to First Presbyterian Church of Cranford, NJ, to assemble the lunch bags. The bags include a protein rich sandwich, water, a pastry, fresh fruit, a Kind Bar, a bag of chips and a container of fruit or apple sauce or other nutritious snacks. These bags are then transported to Elizabeth to be distributed outside the First Baptist Church from 3 to 4 PM.
Let’s talk about the soup. Through the Presbytery of Elizabeth, with the funding of a Presbytery New Hope Grant, the Fanwood Presbyterian Church has supplied different types of to go items for our soup kitchen guests. Fanwood, with the support of the Rev. David Jahnke, has been an amazing partner with us over the years. We truly appreciate their efforts.
Introducing Joe Turso, his wife Sally and the Fanwood Presbyterian Church Soup Team!
While working in New York City, Joe volunteered to make soup at a soup kitchen in the Bowery to help feed the homeless. Joe began to imagine that he could use his culinary skills in New Jersey, as well as New York City. Several months ago, again with a New Hope Grant from the Presbytery of Elizabeth, Fanwood Presbyterian Church, through Joe’s efforts was able to secure a grant to purchase a freezer and start up supplies for his soup kitchen. He and his team connected with us at First Presbyterian Cranford and the rest is history. Our Cranford – Elmora Soup Kitchen has distributed more than 250 of his homemade frozen soups to our guests. Even in the 100 degree heat, the response has been great for his different types of soup.
We would be negligent if we did not offer thanks to the following businesses for their assistance and donations: Pinho’s Bakery in Roselle, Dreyer Farms in Cranford and Breadsmith in Cranford. A huge shout out to our own First Presbyterian Church in Cranford for allowing us to assemble our meals in Bates Hall. Last but not least, to the Police Department of the City of Elizabeth, especially to newly appointed Police Chief Giacomo Sacca for ensuring that our guests and volunteers are safe while distributing the needed meals in Elizabeth.
Our soup kitchen team envisions that our distribution of “mobile picnic lunches “will continue for the foreseeable future. With that being said, to continue to provide the variety and number of nutritious meals that our guests enjoy, donations to serve those in need would be greatly appreciated. Donations include: cases of spring water, variety packs of small bag snacks of chips, popcorn, Fritos, Cheetos, granola bars, packages of squeezable applesauce and small plastic containers of fruit or any individually portioned nutritious snacks. Donations such as these would be very helpful as the Soup Kitchen continues to be able provide meals for those in need. Donations may be dropped off at 210 Oak Lane or 15 Waverly Place, Cranford.
The First Presbyterian Church of Cranford is located at 11 Springfield Ave. For further information about the life of the church, please call the church office @ (908) 276-8440 or email the church at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit our church website @ www.firstprescranford.org, Facebook Page, Instagram and YouTube.