In this strange moment of disruption, our familiar spaces reveal themselves differently. At Toni's Kitchen, our dining room is now a warehouse. Our kitchen runs three and four cooking shifts daily, seven days a week. What was once a conference room is now rows of shelving lined with food bags. Nothing looks the same.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Toni's Kitchen has seen a sharp and continued increase in food need. Seniors are isolating and anxious. Packages of freshly cooked meals and weekly groceries let them know their community is thinking of them. Families who were previously stable have found their incomes disappear overnight. Learning that healthy food is available every week takes one major worry off their shoulders. The homeless or near-homeless, who gathered in our dining room, now pick up meals to-go and keep us up-to-date on how they are faring.
The meal counts from our last four weeks help tell the story:
- Week of 3/16/20 - 11,600
- Week of 3/23/20 -12,600
- Week of 3/30/20 - 13,200
- Week of 4/6/20 - 16,000
In 2019, a record year for Toni's, we averaged 4,365 meals/week.
Safety measures are a continued focus at Toni's Kitchen and we upgrade them regularly. All volunteers and anyone entering the space must wash hands, wear gloves, use a facemask and maintain social distancing. Our volunteer shifts are smaller and more frequent, allowing only a very limited number of people onsite at a given time. Food distributions are done outdoors and a food donation table is available outside as well.
As we find our new rhythms, we draw confidence from the community around us. Ours is a generous and creative community willing to take tangible steps to address needs. Local teens have learned to sew to make us masks. Displaced restaurant workers join our kitchen crew and share their talents. The Montclair Art Museum and Montclair Community Farms lend us their trucks for deliveries. In countless ways, we see how deeply our community cares for every member. These are the bonds that will see us through. Thank you for all your warm support! To donate to our efforts, please go to: