The Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) celebrated its thirtieth anniversary at the Trenton War Memorial on April 20, 2013 by hosting a one-day festival called SouperFest to thank the community for its support.
SouperFest attendees donated 6,000 pounds of canned food to support TASK. People dropped off the goods into yellow buckets placed at the event’s entrance.
TASK Executive Director of six and half years, Dennis Micai, says he was very pleased with the event’s turnout. “One of the beauties of this event was everyone coming together, enjoying themselves, having a great day, and showing that, in the city of Trenton, some good things can happen. Hopefully this will motivate others to do things like we did,” said Micai.
At the festival were more than 250 volunteer workers, more than 1,700 guests, and live entertainment such as clowns, musicians, artists, magicians and more. Some of the activities at SouperFest included a free throw competition hosted by Rider basketball players, and an on-stage dance-along hosted by The Trenton Education Dance Institute.
The event was made possible by TASK’s very first endowment campaign that they completed just in time to host their first ever event of the sort.
According to Micai, TASK’s mission has three parts: feeding the hungry, helping people become self-sufficient, and advocating for those in need.
Former Mercer adjunct professor of photography Gary Saretzki and his wife, Cathy, attended SouperFest. They have been donating time and goods to TASK since 1983. “They do such a good job here, and they don’t waste their money. They use it for all the right reasons,” said Cathy Saretzki.
Micai repeatedly credited his dedicated staff comprised of 3,000 volunteers and donors for TASK’s 30 years of success. The volunteers come from local businesses and corporations, church groups, school clubs from colleges and high schools, while others serve just to do community service.
TCNJ senior Jennifer Ullrich volunteers at TASK eight hours every week. She attended SouperFest on behalf of TCNJ’s Bonner Center for Civic and Community Engagement.
Ullrich explained why she continues to volunteer for TASK: “I really enjoy getting to know the patrons, and the staff here works very hard. It’s good to see smiles on the faces of those in need, because then you know the hard work has paid off.”
In addition to their large volunteer network, TASK employs 23 part time workers who do a lot more than just serve food. In the past 18 months, TASK tutors have helped 35 people obtain their GED.
Dianne Alston of Mount Holly, NJ was a first-time TASK volunteer at the festival, serving free pre-portioned lunches all day. The meals included pasta salad, turkey and ham sandwiches, with a side of yogurt, an apple and a granola bar.
“It’s a fulfillment for me to give back to those who don’t have. It’s also nice to see all the activities here that give the kids something to do,” said Alston.
TASK assists an estimated 4,000 people and serves about 210,000 meals annually between the main location and its’ six satellite locations throughout Mercer County. All of this is made possible by the 2.2 million dollars TASK raises each year. Since they are a non-profit organization, any amount they raise that exceeds 2.2 million dollars is saved, put in the endowment fund, and used for events such as SouperFest.