Cornerstone Community Kitchen (CCK) has been continuing its mission of addressing hunger needs in our community, but in a very different way than they did pre-COVID. They continue to gather food items from a variety of sources, including prepared meals from TASK, produce from farms, and non-perishables.
Our volunteers put these items together into take-out packages that are distributed to guests through the door that leads to the fellowship hall, where the guests are waiting outside to receive them. The clothing closet has also opened in a limited, but exciting way, with selected items available outside for people to choose from. Kudos to the CCK team who has re-imagined their ministry in light of these challenging circumstances.
Cornerstone Community Kitchen served its first meal on June 6, 2012. Some come for the free food, some for the fellowship, all are graciously served a hot meal complete with a decorated table and a piano player in the background. TASK delivers the main dish but CCK supplies vegetables, salad, bread, and a drink, plus sandwiches, children’s breakfast bags, and produce to take home.
For the first two years meals were served on paper plates with plastic utensils in the Sanford Davis Room, the church “parlor” with stained glass windows, because the kitchen — which did not meet health codes — was being constructed. Now the meals are prepared in an up-too-date catering kitchen and served on china plates in the renovated Fellowship Hall.
“The greatest unexpected pleasure that’s come from our service has been the coming together of people from throughout the community to serve,” says Larry Apperson. Five teams from Princeton United Methodist Church alternate serving the meals, one week a month.
Now, each week, Cornerstone’s opening on Wednesday night and its related offerings depend on some 30 volunteers and approximately 75 hours of volunteer time.
Cleanup is done almost exclusively by church members. Every week PUMC member jobs include playing the piano, setting and decorating tables, running the clothes closet, and washing the pots. One school-age girl helps, with her grandmother, before and after her PUMC choir practice. Judy Miller works Tuesday and Wednesdays — she runs the Clothes Closet with the help of two PUMC volunteers. She also decorates the tables with flowers and props from her personal trove.
Community members can also sign up online for ‘one-time’ service. “I wanted to create a place where people could go to do the good things they deep down feel they should be doing anyway,” says Apperson. “Volunteering would be easy, no homework, just come and do it.”
PUMC members supporting CCK include Pam and Tim Ewer, Charles Phillips, Karen Longo-Baldwin, Karin and Bernhard Brouwer (just moved to Florida), Susan Davelman, Joan and Bob Nuse, Judy Miller, Ed Sproles, Lula Crawford, Francia Francisco, Doug Fullman, Larry and Emily Gordinier, Lori Pantaleo, Valerie Newhall, Lorie Roth, Yvonne Macdonald, Joan Klass, Larry and Helen Curtis, Karen Johnson, Bruce Henry, Chris Cox, Kate Lasko, Ichen Mei, and some young new arrivals, Alex and Izzy DiStase.
In addition, the Clothing Store operates in a spacious, dedicated room and shares the same Wednesday 5 – 6:30 PM hours of operation. Supervised by Judy Miller, the store is filled with a wide variety of neatly organized and displayed clothing and household items, where guests take turns shopping in small groups. Store volunteers manage seasonal programs for the children — selecting back to school backpacks, Halloween costumes, and Christmas gifts – carefully selected to match the child’s age and gender.
A significant number of the guests are Hispanic and some speak little if any English. Three years ago, PrincetonUMC member Karen Longo Baldwin, a certified ESL teacher, began teaching English as a Second Language classes that now meet four times weekly.
Cornerstone’s newest offering is Princeton Period Project, a community program to help girls and women who don’t have an easy, reliable, affordable access to feminine hygiene products. These products often take second seat to providing food at the family table. “We have already provided more than 51,000 feminine hygiene products to girls and women in the area,” says Gil Gordon, a member of the Jewish Center of Princeton and member of the board.
Earlier this year, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) presented Larry Apperson with the Chuck Inman Memorial Award, honoring an individual who has made a significant impact in feeding hungry people in Mercer County.
Pastor Ginny Cetuk, who chairs the CCK board, points out that — for a minimum wage job in Mercer County, one would need to work 130 hours per week in order to make ends meet.
As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, Cornerstone does not aim to deliver a religious message. “We are witnessing to our faith through our actions,” says Larry.
On April 13 the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) will present the Chuck Inman Memorial Award to Larry Apperson. The annual award honors an individual who has made a significant impact on feeding hungry people in Mercer County. Larry will be recognized for his long-standing service at TASK and for helping set up the very active satellite at Princeton UMC.
TASK serves those who are hungry in the Trenton area and offers programs to promote self-sufficiency and improve the quality of life of its patrons. As one of 16 satellites operated by TASK, Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen serves 100 meals each week. On April 6, 2019, Cornerstone recorded its 30,000th meal served since beginning in June 2012.
“We are proud of the help and commitment of our partners such as at Princeton United Methodist Church,” says Charlie Orth of TASK. “It’s leaders like Larry that make change happen.”
Turkey and ham with all the trimmings — once again we feasted at an Advent Night dinner with Chef Ian Macdonald presiding. Thank you, Ian and Annie Wilcox, and all the helpers!
Now Ian offers to volunteer his expertise to help us make better use of the new kitchen that we all admire — from afar. Those who work with Cornerstone Community Kitchen know, but most of us don’t know how to use the equipment.
To be fully operational as a professional kitchen it needs certain items.
If you would like to help optimize the efficiency of our kitchen, and learn how to use it efficiently, the person to contact about volunteering is Jamie Gerber. The first meeting is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, January 15 at noon.
Cornerstone Community Kitchen served 130 meals on china plates this week; founded in 2012, it is in it’s fifth year. In addition to nutritious meals CCK now offers a clothing closet, art classes, and English as a Second Language lessons.
Just announced: Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert and the Princeton Council will present an award to our Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen for the work it is doing in doing in Princeton.
The presentation will take place on Monday, November 28th, during the Princeton Council meeting. The meeting starts at 7 PM, Municipal Building, 400 Witherspoon Street.
Says Larry Apperson, founder of CCK: “It will be my pleasure and honor to attend and accept the award on behalf of all volunteers that have worked with tireless love to make Cornerstone successful, and on behalf of our financial donors who support our expanding programs so generously.”
Among the many beautiful trees around the church (thank you, John and Robbie Vaccaro!) is the mitten and hat tree in the Sanford Davis Room. Doris Pope used to hold the record of the most hats knitted for this tree. Each contribution of mittens, gloves, and hats will go to clients of Cornerstone Community Kitchen, to shield them from the freezing weather that is still to come (yes, it will get cold!) Consider donating warmth to the mitten tree. . .
The Cornerstone Community Kitchen (CCK) offers a free and nutritious meal every week, even on holidays. Volunteers from the community serve the meal from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. The meal time on Wednesday, November 25 is at noon. In partnership with the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK), this ministry of PUMC now serves more than 100 people each week. Some come for the food, some for the fellowship and friendly atmosphere. All are welcome, no questions asked.
Then — celebrate Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day at the interfaith service at Princeton University Chapel. Prayers and readings from different congregations, lively music from the pickup choir, the sonorous organ preludes and postludes, liturgical dance — all contribute to an inspiring entrance into the true spirit of thanks. Plan to join your neighbors and friends from all faiths at 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
These volunteer opportunities refer to organizations on PUMC’s outreach web page — or speakers at a United Methodist Men’s breakfast within the past two years. Each has current volunteer opportunities. The PrincetonUMC blog has live links to the web pages.