New Jersey coronavirus update: Newark soup kitchen's mission to feed hungry as important as ever

Coronavirus Update New Jersey
NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- One of the most inspiring movements to emerge from the deadly and recession-sparking pandemic is the campaign to feed people who are hungry.

Food insecurity is an issue in the Tri-State area and some groups have made it their mission to help feed those in need, especially now amid the pandemic.

Before Brother Paul Miller set his sights on feeding families in crisis in Newark's central ward 16 years ago, the basement at St. Ann's Catholic Church on 16th Avenue was a storage space.

But it's been a soup kitchen ever since Miller made his charitable goal a reality.

"We started with a sink that was from the 1940s and an old home stove with one burner," Miller said.

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The soup kitchen, supported by Franciscan Charities, would feed hundreds of families in the dining hall until COVID forced the space to shut down - but it did not stop the outreach.

"It's changed in a dramatic way in that now there are more working poor, people who have lost their jobs, who have not been unemployed before but are now either unemployed or underemployed," Miller said.

Volunteers continue to show up because they could not leave their clients hungry. The chef kept cooking and meals were handed out outside - with precautions in place.

"We serve from our parking lot and we socially distance, we use a cart, we roll the cart up to the gate, and folks take their food," said volunteer and board member Melissa Hillier.

Hillier said they are in desperate need of diapers and COVID put a huge dent in the charity's fundraising, so they are in need of donations. Click here to help.

"Anybody can help, even the smallest donation goes a long way, so help us out, we're part of the community and we're gonna be here and keep going," said President of Franciscan Charities Greg Langan.

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