Category Archives: Health

Trenton Area Soup Kitchen: “Spread The Word ‘Hunger.’”

By Ellen Choi

“Hunger is a huge problem,” said J Steinhauer.

Steinhauer, 30, has been working at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) for seven years, and is current the Development and Community Relations Coordinator at TASK.

He usually works on fundraising grants, posting information on social media, giving out ‘Thank You’ cards to donors or volunteers who help out, and supporting anything that can help the organization.

TASK is an organization which provides food to people who are hungry in the Trenton, New Jersey area. It also offers programs to encourage self-sufficiency that improves the quality of life of its patrons.

Steinhauer went to college in northern part of New Jersey, and obtained a degree in communications. During his time at college, he took a class called, “Local Change and Global Impact,” which gave him an idea of how a small area can help to develop a global change. After he graduated from college, he was looking for an internship that was for a non-profit organization. Steinhauer fortunately got an internship at TASK, and after a year of interning, he started working there from then on.

TASK helps people who are in need, but there are no specific groups of people who they choose to aid. Anyone who comes or visits TASK gets a meal or any information that TASK provides.

Fabulous Thunderbird by Daniel Brady
Fabulous Thunderbird by Daniel Brady

TASK has extended programs such as the Adult Education Program (AEP), which helps adults to learn how to read and write. There is also an art program, a music program and a case manager service program. People who are involved in these programs are even able to get help with getting a job, housing or utility, and preparing for the GED test. These programs are also involved with various organizations, so they can help people in many different ways.

Steinhauer started to help other people after he found out that there are actually not a lot of people who help other people.

“People often stay at home these days more than they go out,” said Steinhauer. “People usually do not communicate in person since our technology system is so developed.”

Steinhauer wanted to be a part of the solution to the problem of the increasing a number of people who are experiencing hunger. Steinhauer shows that helping one another can change our generation through co-operation.

The hardest challenge for Steinhauer at TASK is that it is so difficult for him to say goodbye to patrons.

Steinhauer has a house and a car, he can do anything for his personal life, but there are still people who are hungry all the time and do not have the opportunity to live a normal life without getting any help.

“These days, people usually do not talk about people with hunger,” said Steinhauer. “People even do not know hunger exists since they can get food easily.”

However, people, in general, need to think of hunger more and try to help people with hunger in different ways.

Steinhauer wants people to start telling others about the word “hunger.”

Steinhauer said that there are about 3,000 hungry people in Trenton. It is very important to spread the word “hunger” and come up with a solution to stop the increasing of people with hunger. Spreading out the word is the first thing that we can do in order to help those people.

“Always remember that there are still people out there with hunger and still need help,” said Steinhauer. “People, in general, should be the ones who start talking about the word ‘hunger’.”

Womanspace: Aiding Victims of Domestic Violence

Article by Julie Kayzerman


Every nine seconds, a woman in the United States is assaulted or beaten, one in four women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime and between 4 and 8 million women are victims of domestic violence every year, according to national statistics. Yet, domestic abuse is an avoided subject, an issue that “not many people want to talk about” and even in “2013, we still think it’s not happening,” said Reyna Carothers, director of Emergency Services at Womanspace.

"Small Woman 2" by Kimberly Lennon
“Small Woman 2” by Kimberly Lennon

However, it is happening — it is happening everywhere and it is happening right here. “We know that it happens everywhere because domestic violence doesn’t discriminate,” Carothers says. “It happens everywhere regardless of your social economic status or your educational background.”

Often, leaving the violent situation leads to homelessness which can discourage a person from removing themselves from the situation.

That is why Womanspace is readily available in Mercer County, offering several programs to help victims of domestic abuse get support and overcome their tragedies.

“It’s important we do this because it’s a service that is needed, in Mercer County,” Carothers said. “I hate to say it’s bad, but it’s bad.”

Womanspace offers emergency services like 24/7 hotlines in English and Spanish with the option to connect to other languages as well as sexual assault and domestic violence response teams, transitional housing, shelters, support groups, advocacy programs, access to counseling and more.

“We can be someone who will be there for them,” says Carothers. “If they don’t want to pursue anything legally, we are still able to provide them with supportive services.”

But it is not just the obvious victims that can receive help too. According to Carothers, about 30 percent of cases include children that have been present during instances of domestic violence, and those kids are victims too that can get help from Womanspace.

Womanspace has served over 301,076 adults and children since 1977 according to their website — providing them with the help they needed catered to their personal situations — do not be afraid to make that number 301,077.

“This is something that I’m passionate about,” Carothers said. “I want to impart some sort of hope in the clients that we work with. I realize that we’re not going to be able to help everyone because it’s their choice and they may choose to go back, but my hope is that they are better off by coming to our program than they were before.”


Womanspace (609) 394-9000 1-800-572-SAFE (7233)

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2013 Issue of The Wall Newspaper


Eating Healthy on a Budget


by Karissa Hearn

Having small change in your pocket and not much in your stomach leaves some Trenton locals in quite a predicament when it comes to keeping healthy.

The Trenton Area Soup Kitchen and other local organizations in the area help to provide meals to the working poor and the homeless.

According to Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) Director of Operations, Melisa Rivera, TASK feeds about 300 to 500 visitors at lunchtime, and between two and three hundred guests at dinner.

The soup kitchen tries to offer meat, a vegetable and a starch with every meal, Rivera explained.

Jeanne Molloy, a Registered Dietician and Sodexho employee at The College of New Jersey in Ewing said, “Make it colorful.” Molloy suggests vegetables, fruit, beans, etc. Specifically, these foods contain fiber, calcium and vitamin D, “nutrition powerhouses,” as she calls them.

Molloy specifically stressed the importance of Vitamin D. “It is the key to turn on the immune system,” she said. Vitamin D is prominent in fish, healthy cereals, milk, and soy products.

Tony Usery, a visitor and student at TASK said he would eat anything. “I eat it as long as it tastes good!” Usery laughed.

The soup kitchen makes a variety of food for its diners. “Pasta with meat sauce,” Rivera said, “baked chicken, we do everything.”

According to Usery, who has a particular fondness for kiwi fruits, they (TASK) have meats, fruits, and vegetables, but not a lot of snacks. Something that Usery said there was plenty of was PB and J. “They must have a line with elves on it, making peanut butter and jelly,” Usery said. According to Molloy the protein in peanut butter keeps hunger away the longest.

“They serve good food,” Curtis Hemingway, a Trenton local said. Hemingway, a Diabetic, put aside his notebook and pencil as he is studying to obtain a GED. He started at an 8th grade level and has been working towards it for about five years.

Another food option for many of these people is to grocery shop using food stamps or other resources. Hemingway often does this.

Hemingway is not homeless. He shops on a fixed income. Generally, Hemingway keeps his purchases healthy with chicken, fish, vegetables, and fruit. His guilty pleasure? “Those cream donuts,” he said.

Molloy’s had a couple of easy suggestions to make grocery shopping on a budget more efficient and healthier:

  • Plan your meals, and make your shopping list based on the plans.
  • Plan for at least one meatless meal each week. “This will get in your fiber goals, and be easy on your pocketbook,” Molloy said.
  • Shop the perimeters of the store. That’s where you will find the healthiest items, untouched by processing plants and manufacturers.

There is also another way to keep it cheap, the dollar menu. According to Molloy, “the dollar menu can be great because it’s a smaller serving size…pair a four piece chicken tender with a salad—that’s a beautiful thing,” she explained.

Have a Wendy’s crispy chicken sandwich, extra lettuce and tomato and half of the bun, and a baked potato without the sour cream. For just two dollars, “you’ve got some real nutrition going on there!” Molloy said.

Eating cheaply and eating healthily do not often go hand in hand, but there are resources and options available to make sure a diet is the best it can be. Know your goals, plan your meals, and keep a healthy variety as best as you can.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of The Wall newspaper.

Where to go for Healthcare

by Kinny Nahal


Within the local area of Trenton, NJ, the Henry J. Austin Health Clinic (HJAHC) is the city’s largest non-hospital based ambulatory care provider and aims to provide quality health care service to its locals.

In order to be eligible, an individual needs to earn an income of less than $19,600 per year and provide personal financial information regarding health insurance. It is a low cost service that provides patients with medical/ambulatory needs including: adult medicine, pediatrics, HIV treatment, gynecology, dental care, podiatry, and ophthalmology. Many additional services include social service, nutrition, intervention, transportation, substance abuse assessment, translation services, and an onsite pharmacy.

The HJAHC was established in 1969 as Trenton’s Neighborhood Health Center and was eventually incorporated into a private, nonprofit entity in 1986.

The mission of HJAHC is to provide “quality, community-based, affordable, accessible primary health care services in a culturally sensitive manner with respect and dignity.” The clinic is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), a federal title given from the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is allocated to private non-profit/public health care organizations that aid “uninsured or medically under-served populations.”

The clinic, in coordination with FQHCs, operates its services to all individuals despite their inability to pay, thus only charging for services on a Board approved sliding-fee scale that is grounded on the patient’s family income and size. In general, HJAHC delivers quality care to about 17,000 individuals every year, which adds up to over 61,000 visits in three City of Trenton locations.

With this quality care stems another specialty program that has further come to help people without prescription coverage for more than 20 years through the Share the Care Program. Pfizer Pharmaceuticals has joined with HJAHC to give its eligible patients Pfizer medications to treat common chronic medical conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression. According to HAJHC, “Pfizer has filled an important gap in healthcare.”

Charity healthcare has generally come to serve low income patients for free or reduced prices in the United States. Specifically looking at New Jersey’s charity healthcare system, not only has healthcare come to financially benefit patients, but it has also provided them with a means to receive proper and safe medical care.

Looking forward to great success, the Trenton HJAHC welcomed its new Chief Executive Officer, Mr. George C. Stokes, as of October 3, 2011.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of The Wall Newspaper.

St. Francis’ Mission and the Cost of Care



“We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.”

― Saint Francis of Assisi

By Gary Kehoe


In 2010, Mercer County had the eighth highest percentage of people living in poverty in New Jersey—roughly 25%, according to the New Jersey Poverty Research Institute’s Poverty Benchmark report, released in May 2012. Large statistics often paint a very distant picture of what it is to be poor or in need, but today, eco­nomic struggle, often accompanied by homelessness, is no longer a concept confined to shelters and charities.

Amidst tough economic times, there remains a tight-knit, dedicated system of volunteers and professionals who make it their mission to preserve a spirit of hope and care for the most vulnerable. St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, New Jersey is a leader in this mission, reaching out to those who find themselves struggling to meet one of their most basic needs, their health and well-being.

“The beauty of what St. Francis does is that we turn down no one,” said Christine Stephenson, Vice Presi­dent of St. Francis Medical Center. “Regardless of whether the patient has no address, no insurance, we will take care of them. Our doors are open.”

St. Francis is one of New Jersey’s leading care centers for the homeless and underprivileged. Despite the prox­imity of the hospital to major areas of the state, located just ten minutes from the state’s capitol and fifteen minutes from one of the state’s premier colleg­es, the individuals who pass through its doors can be very misunderstood.

In a recent interview, Ms. Stephen­son and Vice President of Mission and Ministry Russ Hansel offered their perspectives. Speaking to what he saw as an inaccurate stereotype, Hansel shared, “I think there are two definitions of ‘homeless’ that we deal with. When some people hear we take care of the homeless, they picture the stereotype of ‘druggie, alcoholic, deviant’. When you take the time to see what we are doing you realize the new definition has to be broader. It’s everyday people: single parents and children that we care for.”

“A lot of our patients do work and are insured,” Stephenson added. She explained that addiction or behav­ioral health related issues were the primary causes for admittance. Many of the patients they see cannot afford their treatments or access to services. “These people are not morally corrupt or socially deviant,” she shared. “They are just in a rough patch, you know? They don’t have money.”

Using the statistical formula devel­oped in the publication “Estimating the Need,” it is projected that over the course of a year, 2,469 adults and chil­dren are homeless in Mercer County, according to, and the correlation between poor health and low income remains consistent.

According to the Legal Services of New Jersey, 13% of people reporting poor health bring in less than $15,000. (Legal Services of NJ). Stephenson and Hansel were in agreement that the heart of the issue was economic, and explained that homelessness was not only a result of economic struggle, but could also be the cause of tremendous expense to the healthcare system as well if not handled properly.

Though a citizen might be quick to think free healthcare for the uninsured or homeless to be an unfair burden on those taxpayers who are insured, it is actually, according to Stephenson, Hansel, and many other service orga­nizations, an essential way to prevent a more costly alternative.

Stephenson said that the major­ity of St. Francis’ patients seen in emergency rooms at least 40 times a year were homeless. Proactive efforts are underway to lower this number through early recognition and inter­vention, preventing costly visits to the Emergency Room in the future.

St. Francis Medical Center adds to its traditional hospital duties an out-patient service program designed to make itself an early resource and develop meaningful relationships with those who find themselves in shelters and social service programs. Rather than waiting for an individual to arrive at St. Francis, St. Francis places social workers, Nurse Practitioners (DNP’s), and even graduate-medical students in places like Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) and Rescue Mission. These efforts saves the cost of frequent emergency room visits.

Stephenson and Hansel mentioned Peg Nasaro, DNP for St. Francis Med­ical Center, as one of the very impor­tant people in their care system. Once a week, Nasaro visits Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, dedicating personal time to individuals who need basic medical care on behalf of St. Francis Medical Center. Nasaro’s consistent presence and dedication to those in need is part of St. Francis’ long-term goal of developing meaningful relationships which, according to St. Francis medical staff, prove essential in care process.

“You must foster a relationship with people,” Hansel emphasized. “That personal engagement, which may take weeks or even months, helps you really understand what people’s needs are. That’s really where it starts.”

Just last year, Peg Nasaro encoun­tered a young man in T.A.S.K who claimed he felt ill. He had not been seen before in the St. Francis Emer­gency Room or hospital, but as Nasaro discovered, he was a diabetic who had gone untreated for a very long period of time and was in serious condition. The man could not afford his treat­ments, and in his present state, was not expected to live past 45. It was the early intervention by Peg Nasaro, and the handoff to St. Francis Medi­cal Center, that eventually led to the man’s recovery.

“We didn’t just release him from the hospital and forget, either,” added Stephenson. “We got him in touch with those who could help him find work to pay for his treatments. In the meantime, Russ even paid for those treatments out of his own pocket.”

Hansel nodded, assuring that, “After hospital treatment may be complete, we ensure a ‘warm handoff’ to the next step in their recovery and remain in contact. Hansel and Ste­phenson each remain in contact with their former patient, and were pleased to share that he is currently living in his own residence, employed and in good health. The man’s life and the cost of more severe emergency care in the future had he gone untreated, were saved.

This story is one of many, and those like it are not limited just to St. Francis Medical Center. As Peg Nasaro plays her role for St. Francis within T.A.S.K, so does St. Francis play its particular role in a much larger community of volunteers and profes­sionals who share the same goal.

“We are… ‘unusually blessed,’” said Stephenson, “in that we have such a tight group of people working together with us, committed to serving the needs of the people who need help most. Sometimes we even hear from other counties and they send their needy people here to Trenton.”

St. Francis Medical Center joins Henry J. Austin Medical Center, Greater Trenton Behavioral Health­care, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Res­cue Mission, and HomeFront, in the effort to connect and provide for the individuals who may find themselves in need of a helping hand.

St. Francis said, “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is pos­sible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Today’s economy has shown many that poverty and hard times are not impossible for anyone. A community of support in the Mercer County area makes it their mission to show that recognizing the humanity beyond stereotype, and saving the cost of care, is quite possible.

St. Francis Medical Center:

Located on the corner of Hamilton and Chambers Street, Trenton, NJ 08609

(609) 599-5000

Henry J. Austin Medical Center:

Locations in Trenton, NJ:

317 Chambers St.

321 N. Warren St.

112 Ewing St.

For immediate assistance:

(609) 278-5900