Montclair, NJ – Toni’s Kitchen, a food ministry of St. Luke’s Church in Montclair, celebrated breaking ground on a significant expansion of their space on Saturday, June 18. Founded 40 years ago in 1982, Toni’s Kitchen started as a small soup kitchen of St. Luke’s and has grown into a major hunger relief organization serving Montclair, Bloomfield and West Orange.
Toni’s Kitchen has been significantly impacted by the overwhelming rise in the demand for food supports since the onset of Covid-19. Programs for seniors, recent immigrants, families with young children, students aging out of foster care and those without stable housing have all seen exponential growth. In 2021, Toni’s Kitchen provided 1.5 million meals in our community, up from 240,000 in 2019.
“We see continued high need in the foreseeable future,” said Anne Mernin, Executive Director. “Inflation, the churn in the local housing market and global instability in food production are all impacting low-income families and individuals.”
This expansion project will open up over 5000 square feet of space below the sanctuary building but currently inaccessible.
“We are blessed to have space to expand into,” said Reverend John Mennell. “It is important that our food ministry has the facilities it needs to do this most important work of caring for our neighbors who are struggling.” The new space will house pallets of food, shelving units, work spaces and a large walk-in fridge/freezer and be easily accessible by Toni’s Kitchen current operations.
Joining in celebrating this milestone initiative were many of those in the community who have supported Toni’s Kitchen for many years, including: Rep. Mikie Sherrill represented by Jill Hirsch; County Commissioner President Brendan Gill; 3rd Ward Councilperson Lori Price Abrams; 4th Ward Councilperson David Cummings; former
Mayor Robert Jackson; Jennifer Nelson, Network Leader, Community Foodbank of NJ; Pam Scott, Executive Director, Partners for Health Foundation; Anita Peterson, Director of Development, The Montclair Foundation; Lori Henninger, Executive Director, Montclair Fund for Women; members of the St. Luke’s vestry and the Toni’s Kitchen Advisory Committee.