April 13, 2020
As the COVID-19 crisis continues, children in Princeton Theological Seminary’s neighboring city of Trenton feel its impact. Nutritional and dietary needs have not changed, yet food accessibility is limited. Due to school closures, many children wait until 11:30 a.m. to receive breakfast, and food deserts continue to expand as food pantries, soup kitchens, and stores already serving the Trenton area are unable to keep up with demand.
Princeton Seminary alumni and their congregations are rising to meet this need, and the Seminary, with the guidance of its Urban Ministry Cabinet, is supporting their efforts.
Vicar Erich Kussman, MDiv ’19, and his congregation at St. Bartholomew Lutheran Church have started a meal distribution program in Trenton’s South Ward, as well as a food pantry for families struggling with the loss of work and income in the community. They have already served more than 700 meals via their meal distribution program and have given out 200 bags of food through their food pantry.
“In the same way the hospital takes care of the physical needs of our community, it is our responsibility to take care of the spiritual and emotional needs of our community as the body of Christ,” Kussman explains. “God can still greatly be glorified by how we serve the world around us, especially in a time such as this.”
To support the congregation’s efforts, SAGE, the Seminary’s catering service, has committed to contributing 100 nutritious lunches to St. Bartholomew’s every Wednesday.
Rev. Maureen Gerald, MDiv ’06, and Rev. Dr. Darrell Armstrong, MDiv ’99 and Seminary board member, are also providing for those in need. Shiloh Baptist Church of Trenton has joined with community partners, including Momentum Counseling and local favorite restaurant Turning Point, to form the “Reaching Our Neighbor” initiative. Under the leadership of Gerald, the church’s executive pastor, the initiative provides healthy breakfasts and lunches to families living in affordable housing communities in the West Ward. For the month of April, SAGE will contribute 200 meals a day to this effort, five days a week.
“I am grateful that Momentum Counseling, Shiloh Baptist Church, and our neighbor, Princeton Theological Seminary, are able to partner together to provide 200 meals a day to low income housing communities in the West Ward of Trenton,” Gerald says. “Coronavirus has caused much disruption, but it will not break our compassion and commitment to serve each other in uncommon times like these.”
Led by urban pastor and activist Rev. Karen Hernandez-Granzen, a member of Princeton Seminary’s Urban Ministry Initiative, Westminster Presbyterian Church has committed to ongoing financial support for the Capital Area YMCA, whose “Feed the Need” meal distribution program serves communities throughout the Trenton area. “Westminster Presbyterian Church’s strong partnerships are playing a pivotal role in ensuring that over 1,200 children and youth that would normally receive breakfast and lunch at school still receive meals Monday through Friday,” Hernandez-Granzen explains. Following the congregation’s lead, Princeton Seminary is also contributing financially to this program.
To learn more about these initiatives, please contact Rev. Dr. Victor Aloyo, Jr., Princeton Seminary’s associate dean for institutional diversity and community engagement, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you wish to contribute to any or all of these efforts, you can donate directly to the following organizations:
Bartholomew Lutheran Church
1746 South Clinton Avenue
Trenton, NJ 08610
Shiloh Baptist Church
340 Rev. S. Howard Woodson Way
Trenton, NJ 08618
Memo: Reaching Our Neighbor Initiative
Capital Area YMCA
431 Pennington Avenue
Trenton, NJ 08618
Memo: Feed the Need Program
To learn more about the Seminary's community engagement efforts, read about our Urban Ministry Initiatives.