Toni's Kitchen began offering "Coffee and Company," its warming program for members of the community, back in November. The program runs from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm each weekday in the St. Luke's Assembly Hall.
Volunteer Mike Hogan leads the program and works with two other volunteers. He says that the program is centered around food and the ability for guests to socialize with each other. "We have about five or six tables where they can sit around and we provide them with a meal." Hot soup is usually on the menu, and a number of local restaurants also provide meals for the program, including Anika, Coffee & Cornbread, Guerriero Gelato, Montclair Diner, Samba, Stuffed burgers, Toast and Turtle + the Wolf. Mike also bakes cookies for the guests!
Guests can also pick up warm coats, socks and sleeping bags if they have a need for those items.
The average number of people coming in each day is between 20 and 25. Mike says he sees a range of people coming in for the program, of all ages, including some families.
He says that a number of the people who come to the warming center are unhoused. He says that everyone who comes seems to appreciate that it's available to them. "They're happy that we're doing this. They really are. Because for those that do have apartments, this at least cuts down their food costs."
Mike has been volunteering at Toni's Kitchen for about five years. He has also been a volunteer at Outpost in the Burbs. He enjoys volunteering at Toni's. "Oh, it's amazing. I mean there's just so many moving parts. It's more than just a soup kitchen really."
Volunteers like Mike are what make TK programs like “Coffee and Company” work. It's another part of Toni's Kitchen's ongoing effort to serve those in need in our community.