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To the Editor:

This has been a year of gratitude for Lunch Break -- for taking stock of what we’ve accomplished as a community for the past 36 years in providing help for today and hope for tomorrow for our economically insecure families.

I sincerely thank our donors, Board of Trustees, staff and volunteers for all they’ve given over the years and continue to support as Lunch Break explores new ways of effectively serving the needs of our community. The 2019 Fall Gala in October is a culmination of our gratitude to community members for the security and compassion they bring to the underemployed, disabled, senior citizens, and veterans in need of assistance. Over nearly four decades at Lunch Break, you’ve ensured that economically insecure families have enough food to feed their hungry children, that senior citizens on fixed incomes don’t have to decide between affording medication or groceries, and that individuals struggling through their day, often working more than one job, can look forward to a nutritious meal and fresh produce. You’ve also helped your neighbors attain the skills they need to gain new employment or the guidance in finding a job through our Life Skills Program. You’ve afforded our families the courtesy and dignity they so deserve. You’ve created a Circle of Hope. For this, we are grateful.

While we look back on our successes, we know full well that in the future many of our neighbors will continue to struggle from day to day, making it critical for Lunch Break to position itself to serve the increasing demands. We must draw on this Circle of Hope as a symbol of our ongoing mission in offering food, clothing, fellowship and life skills to those in need in our community and beyond.

I am sure many of you are acquainted with someone like ALICE (an acronym for (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). According to the United Way of Northern New Jersey’s Fall 2016 ALICE report, 1 out of 5 households headed by adults 45 to 64 years old are unable to make ends meet. And the number of households struggling to afford the basics of food, clothing, housing and transportation grew by 15 percent between 2010 and 2016, as reported by ALICE. You’ve seen these statistics. The reality: ALICE is less than a paycheck from disaster. It’s emotionally and physically exhausting to be ALICE, to survive each day stressing over your family’s next meal while ignoring your own hunger pains -- to not have a home with a suitable bed in which to rest or a table upon which to eat.    

The current administration is proposing a rule to dramatically limit the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) enrollment process. A move that could make more than 3 million recipients ineligible to continue receiving food assistance. And where do those affected by such legislation turn for their basic needs? To community-funded organizations such as Lunch Break.

As the need increases, we ask that you help expand our Circle of Hope, ensuring that no one is denied a more optimistic tomorrow, as well as to advocate for those who remain voiceless, reminding elected officials and the community to continue to work toward breaking the cycle of poverty by maintaining vital feeding and social service programs. September is Hunger Awareness Month -- a reminder of our commitment to those who struggle to survive. Let’s not wait for then. Let’s begin today. Please visit our website at www.lunchbreak.org or contact Lunch Break (732) 747-8577 to get more involved.

With gratitude and appreciation,

Gwendolyn O. Love

Executive Director, Lunch Break