The Soulfood Cafe Soup Kitchen serves lunch Monday through Friday from 12 – 2 pm and dinner is served Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Run solely by dedicated volunteers, the soup kitchen serves an average of 175 people per day. Though a “soup” kitchen, the chef’s prepare home style, nutritious, and well-balanced meals. The Soulfood Café was featured on the Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible where celebrity Chef Robert Irvin and his team renovated the kitchen and dining room and spotlighted our Chef Emeriti, the late Georgianna Loney-Wilson who was at the time, 80 years young.
The Emergency Food Pantry operates Monday through Friday and is staffed by volunteers. Registration is between 3-3:30 pm. Those in need are eligible to receive groceries for 4-5 meals per family size once a month. The package generally includes frozen meat; canned goods; dry staple items, baby food and milk when needed. Annually, more than 10,000 families receive emergency packages. The food pantry is one of the largest providers of food in Essex County and distributes more than 120,000 meals annually.
St. James Diaper Bank and feminine Hygiene Project is in conjunction with the Community Foodbank of New Jersey (CFBNJ), diapers are available to women and men with children who are in need. Adult diapers are also available for those in need. In addition to diapers, the CFBNJ provides SJSSC with feminine hygiene products, to help women who cannot afford to purchase those items. Diapers and feminine hygiene products are available Tuesday – Thursday, between 11am – 2pm.
Be a Blessing Holiday Distribution operates annually during the holiday season and is in collaboration with Saint James AME Church. A meal which includes a turkey and all the fixings needed to prepare a Thanksgiving and/or Christmas dinner is distributed to more than 500 families for each holiday. A hot meal is served to the hungry the day after Thanksgiving and for Christmas, more than 1500 toys are distributed to children who are less fortunate.
Our Clothing Distribution Program allows clients to “shop” for gently used clothing once a month. Operated solely by volunteers, in addition to clothes, during the winter months, more than 600 coats are distributed through this program.
Through an assessment and screening process, SJSSC provides supportive services to those who are facing financial hardship. This would include providing Rental Assistance such as back rent and security deposits. Families and individuals may also be eligible for assistance to pay their utility bills through direct financial support or through our ongoing partnership with New Jersey Shares.
SJSSC provides referrals for emergency shelter, furniture and substance disorders and counseling.
HIV/AIDS Awareness, Testing and Counseling
SJSSC’s HIV program aims to reduce new HIV/AIDS infections and identify those who test positive. We provide counseling and referral services and FREE HIV testing. For those who test positive, they are immediately linked to medical and advanced care. Those living with AIDS can receive special grocery food packages from our Health and Wellness food pantry in addition to the main pantry. Testing is by appointment only.
Lead Prevention and Awareness
The SJSSC Lead Prevention and Awareness Program is an educational and direct service program. Our primary purpose is to educate the community about the dangers of lead poisoning and provide information for those whose homes test positive for lead.