The Lunchtime Ministry: Serving the Homeless Community in Hoboken for 50 Years

In the past year, homelessness—already a major issue—has been on the rise. The January 2020 Point-In-Time & Housing Inventory County determined that Hudson County saw a 6% increase in homelessness overall with nearly 1,000 people experiencing homelessness in Hoboken specifically. With the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating resources in communities nationwide and likely having an impact on these rates, programs like The Lunchtime Ministry are vital. 

The Lunchtime Ministry has been serving the Hoboken community for 50 years and is still going strong today. We had a chance to connect with The Lunchtime Ministry Program Manager, Stanley ‘Spike’ Enzweiler, to learn more about the work being done by an incredible organization. Read on to learn more about The Lunchtime Ministry’s mission in Hoboken.

Haircut at Lunchtime Ministry

{Photo credit: @lunchtimeministry}

Its Foundation

The Lunchtime Ministry started with a group of people looking to connect with others in the community. “We started out fifty years ago as a group from St. Matthew Trinity who would knit blankets and clothes for Hoboken’s homeless. The group began serving meals as well, and more and more people came by just for the food,” shared Spike. As more and more people learned about what this group was doing, The Lunchtime Ministry grew into what it is today.

Read More: Volunteer Opportunities in Hoboken + Jersey City for May 2021

The Services

Hosted at St. Matthew Trinity Church, on the corners of 8th and Hudson Streets, The Lunchtime Ministry is a soup kitchen/drop-in center that shares breakfast, lunch, coffee, toiletries, and social-service referrals with around 65 people per day, four days a week. 

Cooking at Lunchtime Ministry

{Photo credit: @lunchtimeministry}

Spike says that the mission of the organization is “to provide our Hoboken neighbors with a warm meal, a compassionate community, and a peaceful place to spend the morning.”

Making an Impact

The Lunchtime Ministry relies on the support of other homeless resources in town to be able to operate. “Local social services (shout-out to our big sister, the Hoboken Shelter) send outreach workers to our site and share resources from excess food to housing assistance. Many of Hoboken’s churches, schools, and restaurants donate to us as well. 

The support of community members, including former volunteers, has always meant a great deal to Lunchtime Ministry,” shared Spike. Spike went on to note that the program also receives support from local businesses doing what they can to provide resources that match the mission.

“Many Hudson-County restaurants donate to us. We currently receive pastries and bread from Choc O Pain and Bagels on the Hudson; meat and rice from Qdoba, KFC, and Chick fil A, pasta from Johnny Pepperoni, and fresh fruit from Whole Foods Weehawken. Other restaurants and grocery stores contribute, as do local individuals who prepare meals and sandwiches at home and deliver them to us.”

Just like every other establishment over the last year, The Lunchtime Ministry had to adjust to CDC guidelines brought on by the pandemic—despite the need for resources being greater than ever. 

“In March of 2020, we suspended our indoor operations and began serving to-go coffee, sandwiches, and toiletries. That summer, we opened a strEATery: outdoor tables where our guests could enjoy to-go food. When temperatures dropped, we began serving hot dishes indoors; this has continued into spring of 2021,” shared Spike. 

However, even with this shift, The Lunchtime Ministry remained determined to not give up on its guests. Spike shared, “COVID-19 changed how we operated, but it never shut us down. Our services proved vital to our guests throughout the pandemic, and thanks to our community’s support, we remained open every day of 2020.”

Vaccinations at Lunchtime Ministry

{Photo credit: @lunchtimeministry}

How to Help

The Lunchtime Ministry would not be possible without the community coming together. In addition to Spike serving as Program Manager since 2016, a small group of volunteers donates, prepares, and serves meals daily. All are welcome to get involved. Spike provided opportunities to support The Lunchtime Ministry. 

“There are many ways to help us out both remotely and in person. You can order needed supplies from our Amazon wish list or donate online here (under “Designation,” select “Lunch Time Ministry”). 

See More: All About the Hoboken Community Center + Food Pantry and How You Can Help

Donations of sandwiches, socks, bottled water, and canned soups {pop-tops are the best} can be brought by every Monday to Thursday from 8AM to 12PM.”  Individuals interested in volunteering or donating meals can email volunteers@stmatthewtrinity.org to inquire about their needs.

To learn more about The Lunchtime Ministry, visit the website here or check it out on social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

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Written by:

Jordan and Joelle, contributors and volunteer coordinators to HobokenGirl are true Jersey Girls. Originally hailing from down the shore in Hazlet, NJ, the girls made their "rite of passage" move to Hoboken a few short years after graduating with degrees in Communications from Loyola University. Outside of their 9-5 as senior publishers in NYC, the twins can be found baking cookies, reading the latest books, or walking their yorkie-poo Chica. Like many 20-somethings, Jordan and Joelle are balling on a budget and know how to score the best deals around town