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Feeding Newark’s hungry is a labor of love

For most of us, we are wrapping up several days of feasting.

But a recent visit to the Newark Free Lunch Program in the basement of the Emmanuel United Methodist Church is a sobering reminder that a good, hot meal is harder for others to come by.

At noon every Tuesday through Thursday, volunteers serve up some home cooking to those in need. The program started in 1993 with Art and Elsie Deys, who began with a vision of providing a free Thanksgiving dinner. Last year, the Newark Free Lunch Program served over 9,000 meals, according to current director Manny Crespo.

“Our motto is if you’re hungry, come in. No questions asked,” said Nancy Welcher, a church member and volunteer.

On a recent Wednesday morning, Crespo was visiting with clients in the basement well before lunch was ready. He said a large pot of coffee is put on early and people are welcome to come in before the noon serving time to chat and play cards.

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