Edit: As of January 2023, the Compassion Meals program has expanded to the following times:
Breakfast: Monday-Friday 9am–10am
Lunch: Monday-Saturday 12pm–1pm
Dinner: Fridays 4:30pm–5:30pm
Trinity Church Wall Street is serving lunch six days a week, every day except Sunday, at Broadway and Wall Street, beginning at noon. Breakfast is available on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9am. Trinity has also begun a pilot program for the summer, offering dinner twice monthly in June, July, and August, and every week starting in September.
Compassion Meals are part of the parish’s commitment to its Lower Manhattan neighborhood, a recognition that food insecurity, which was already challenging for thousands of Trinity’s neighbors before the pandemic, has only gotten worse. Trinity had continued to provide food all through the pandemic and, when Compassion Meals relaunched on April 25, the response emphatically confirmed the ongoing need.
“Individuals and families from the surrounding communities, including Chinatown and the Lower East Side, have been receiving food, along with some people from the immediate neighborhood around the church,” said Alberto Cruz, Director, Family & Community Support at Trinity Church Wall Street.
Volunteers offer meals under the big white tent, just inside the gate on the north side of the churchyard. Since early June, lunch has included cooked food. After receiving chicken, rice, and macaroni and cheese, Vourney McDonald expressed approval for the quality of the meal.
“You treat people the way they should be treated,” McDonald said.
“The meals we serve are the meals that we ourselves would eat. We were very intentional on doing this,” Cruz said. “It is another reason we make the space inviting by including our plants, baskets for fruits, and individual containers for lunches.”
Volunteers from Trinity’s staff and from the neighborhood make Compassion Meals possible by packing bags and serving food. Those volunteers also provide information about local opportunities for mutual aid which not only connects folks to necessary resources, but also builds a sense of community, a feeling often missing during the months of isolation throughout the pandemic.
The Compassion Meals program is organized by Trinity’s Neighborhood Support team, a division of the parish staff that focuses on the wellbeing and resilience of the children, youth, parents, and residents of Lower Manhattan.
“Our team is working alongside people in the community to identify the strengths and challenges that our neighbors face in their lives on the Lower East Side, Chinatown, and other neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan,” said Vidia Cordero, Trinity’s Deputy Chief Community Impact Officer. “The goal is to work together to come up with solutions that will help everyone in this neighborhood thrive.”
Compassion Meals represent an evolution of the Brown Bag Lunch program that began in 2009.
“Food insecurity during Covid has grown exponentially. Food is still a major need for many people," Cruz said.
“Just to give you an idea, we began the year with a goal of serving 500,000 meals this year and as of last week through all our efforts we have served just over 525,000 meals.”
The Neighborhood Support team will continue its effort to feed the community when the Compassion Market opens in September.