Monthly Community Supper Serves Those in Need
The monthly supper has been serving the community for more than three years.
Last month marked the third-year anniversary of the East Windsor-Hightstown community supper, and organizers said they want the community to know one thing: no one has to go hungry.
The purpose of the dinner is to feed both the area’s homeless population and those who are simply struggling financially, said Adrienne Cheshier, director at Yad Ezra-The Helping Hand.
“We started the dinner to feed hungry people in need and other people that could just use a hot free meal and companionship,” she said.
Volunteers run the supper and participants vary from month to month, although there is a core group of people that consistently show up, Cheshier said. Some volunteers help with cooking and prep work, while others serve food to light background music.
“Part of the dinner’s purpose is to make people feel like they’re going out to eat in a dignified setting,” Cheshier said.
Setup usually starts between 3 to 4:30 p.m., and the dinner lasts until 6 p.m.
Cheshier noted that although she and her husband, Larry, originally catered to single adults, there has been a recent influx of different demographics, most recently families.
Since much of the food served is donated, the menu varies from supper to supper. “But my husband Larry has been the cook from day one,” Cheshier said.
As well as distributing food, the dinner functions as a time to donate clothing and supplies that might help families for the upcoming week.
“As for the food, we give out bananas, potatoes, oranges, apples and non-perishables,” Cheshier said. “There’s always a multitude of breads and bagels and sometimes toys and books for the children.”
About six months after the supper began, volunteers began reaching out to two senior homes in East Windsor, St. James Village and Wheaton Pointe.
“Twice a month we try to reach out to the shut-ins and incapacitated in these communities and deliver food to each of the apartments,” Cheshier said. “On the night of the monthly supper we bring the residents a hot meal,” she added.
The group is participating in the Feinstein Million Dollar Food Challenge, a national event started by Rhode Island philanthropist Alan Feinstein.
“For the months of March and April, for every food item and dollar that gets donated to us we get a percentage back,” Cheshier said. “This is a good year; already, Kreps Middle School has donated six large boxes of food and Hightstown High School is planning several food drives.”
Cheshier noted that although there isn’t an official relation between the monthly supper and the “RISE to the TASK” community dinner that serves locals weekly, the respective organizations have the same goals.
“We aren’t under any government jurisdiction like RISE so we don’t get any money other than what we raise during drives,” Cheshier said. “But I’ve helped out in their pantry and Leslie Koppel, the RISE Executive Director, has helped us out,” she added.
The biggest challenge of hosting the dinner is getting everything done on time, Cheshier said.
“My husband and I are somewhat perfectionists and want everyone to be perfectly happy at each dinner. This, and the fact that we never really know who’s coming until they get there can sometimes make things stressful,” she said.
At the end of the day, Cheshier wants to spread the word that she, her husband and other volunteers are always available East Windsor-Hightstown community.
“We can bring hot meals and canned goods in emergencies but most importantly, we want people to know that someone is out there who cares,” she said.