TOMS RIVER – Free takeout barbecue meals will be served to residents in need as Operation BBQ Relief returns to the township on Saturday, Nov. 14.
The nonprofit group will distribute 1,000 barbecue meals from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Presbyterian Church of Toms River parking lot, 1070 Hooper Ave.
The food distribution will be performed drive-thru style. Families should remain in their vehicle at all times and keep windows closed. Food will be placed in car trunks or truck beds.
Operation BBQ Relief has returned repeatedly to Toms River to assist families in need, beginning with free meals provided to superstorm Sandy victims in 2012. Operation BBQ Relief was also came to Toms River in 2018 and 2019, and was here in April to assist during a statewide shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The group is a 501(c)(3) charity that was founded in 2011 to serve residents in Joplin, Missouri, who were struggling after the massive tornado there. Competitive pit masters from eight different states answered the call to feed displaced families and first responders.
Together, they were able to serve over 120,000 meals in a thirteen-day period.
“Drawing from experiences serving after natural disasters, Operation BBQ Relief has the ability to effectively and efficiently provide thousands of meals in a short amount of time while still abiding by Centers for Disease Control social distancing group gathering guidelines,” said David Keith, coordinator for New Jersey for Operation BBQ Relief and owner of DRJ Catering.
Mayor Maurice B. “Mo” Hill Jr. said he is happy to welcome Operation BBQ Relief back to the township as Thanksgiving approaches.
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“Operation BBQ Relief has been providing hot meals to residents in need in the Jersey Shore area throughout the pandemic,” Hill said. “We are very thankful that they will be providing hot meals to the residents of Toms River on Nov. 14, particularly as we near the Thanksgiving holiday.”
Operation BBQ Relief is connecting with closed restaurants to make the meals, allowing them to open their doors and bring staff back to work as partners in the newly established program Operation Restaurant Relief.
The group uses the restaurant kitchens and staff to prepare meals for local communities.
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“We are so happy to be helping out our town and our neighbors, it is amazing to see what a hot meal can do to nourish the soul,” Keith said. “We are grateful we are able to do this again and look forward to a great day.”
The township has also continued free food distribution to needy families in partnership with Fulfill, formerly the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean counties. The “Pop the Trunk” food distribution is held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church.
Food is also distributed on Friday mornings at South Toms River Elementary School.
Watch the video above to learn more about the township’s “Pop the Trunk” food distribution, which has been happening since April 10.
Jean Mikle covers Toms River and several other Ocean County towns, and has been writing about local government and politics at the Jersey Shore for nearly 36 years. A finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in public service, she’s also passionate about the Shore’s storied music scene. Contact her: @jeanmikle, 732-643-4050, firstname.lastname@example.org.