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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Sep 05, 2017

Food Truck Fun Helps Families in Need

By Tony Senk

Every weekday, a group of 60 to 65 primarily Keyport residents meets at the Community Church of Keyport on Warren Street to partake in an hour of food and fellowship at the church’s Fellowship Hall. It’s all part of the Bayshore Lunch Program, where lunch is offered free to anyone, whether they are individual seniors in need or entire families. The lunch includes a hot entrée, a side dish, and dessert. Members of local organizations, such as the Kiwanis, Knights of Columbus, St. Catherine’s Church Outreach Program in Holmdel, Middletown Lions, and the Monmouth County Retired Educators Association, take turns on specific days to cook the food, serve it, and clean up Fellowship Hall afterwards. Food is donated by local food establishments. The daily process and procedures are spelled out and the day-to-day routine remains fairly – well – routine.

Then, one day last month, Dean Hodecker and his food truck arrived outside the church – and for one tasty and smile-filled day, everything changed. His food truck, artistically and colorfully showing the phrase “Good Food, Good Mood,” certainly put all in attendance in a good mood that day! Chief among them was Kathy Logan, who heads the “Bridges at the Shore” Outreach Program at the Holmdel Community Church.

“The day Dean came by with the food truck was a great day,” said Ms. Logan. “We had a picnic-themed event, with Dean providing the hot food and the rest of us providing watermelon and salads. It was really thoughtful, kind, and generous for Dean to help us out in this way.” Mr. Hodecker’s mother is a member of the Monmouth County Retired Educators Association and when she told her son about the Bayshore Lunch Program, he said he would be happy to pitch in and help. “Being there and seeing the faces of the people who came for lunch was so rewarding that I will probably stop by again sometime,” he said.

Ms. Logan said the recipients of the lunches are always grateful and many have commented on the taste of the meatloaf made by members of the Kiwanis Club, and the chicken dishes served up by members of the Monmouth County Retired Educators Association are always a big hit. “It’s a wonderful program that really helps those who just need a little boost,” she explained. “It also serves as a valuable social setting for some folks. One group of seniors – all guys – comes by nearly every day. They come for the lunch, occasionally donate money toward it, and chat with each other for 45 minutes. They seem to really enjoy it. It’s important that the elderly have a place to socialize every now and then, and the Bayshore Lunch Program at Fellowship Hall provides them an opportunity to do just that.”

Lunches are served on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays starting at 11:30 a.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting at 12:30 p.m. In addition to the food and the fellowship, every Friday a nurse from the Visiting Nurse Association visits the lunch program to check blood pressure, give out information on health screenings, and answer health-related questions from guests. A mental health specialist is also available every Friday by appointment.

“We’re always looking for donations to the program,” said Ms. Logan,” either from members of groups or organizations or from individuals. The people sponsoring that day’s lunch will be recognized at the lunch.” A financial contribution of $50 can provide a meal to approximately 30 people and all donations, big or small, are welcome. Checks can be made out to The Bayshore Lunch Program and mailed to P.O. Box 686, Keyport, New Jersey, 07735.

On the Bridges at the Shore Outreach Program front, last month, volunteers delivered nearly 400 donated backpacks filled with school supplies to families and individuals in Keyport, Keansburg, Red Bank, and Freehold. “We’ve already started gearing up for our Christmas run in December, where we’ll be delivering donated toys and books,” Ms. Logan stated, “so please keep Bridges at the Shore in mind when you start your early Christmas shopping.”

At the “Bridges at the Shore” Outreach Program, donated clothing is sorted on the day prior to its distribution, which usually takes place on a Friday. On the distribution day, volunteers, in a caravan of cars and vans, make their way to Keyport, Red Bank, and Freehold to help homeless and low-income individuals in those communities. Donations of clothing, toiletries, and blankets can be dropped off anytime in the shed marked “Bridges” located at the parking lot behind the Holmdel Community Church. Volunteers also bring brown bag lunches to the homeless. They should include a sandwich (no condiments), a drink (no glass bottles), and a piece of fruit and a snack. A note of encouragement always helps, as well, but don’t include names or personal information. The next clothing sort will take place at the Holmdel Community Church, located at 40 Main Street (Route 520) on Thursday, October 19 starting around 6:00 p.m.