Judith Bernstein Lunch Program

Table Number Judith Bernstein Lunch ProgramWhat is the Lunch Program?

Our lunch program is a wonderful, friendly, inter-generational community program serving a lunchtime meal to guests who may need a little extra food or companionship. We are open on Thursdays from 12:00-1:00PM. It is our goal to serve anyone who enters our doors, regardless of age, gender, religion, background, or income level. We strive to create an environment in which our guests are individually addressed, personally welcomed and served with kindness and generosity by our volunteers. We care for both body and soul by providing our guests with a meal in a comfortable and respectful atmosphere.

Guests at my tables have shared with me that the Judith Bernstein Lunch Program is the best they’ve visited. Many lives are being touched…Guests have told me the food is the best tasting of all the soup kitchens and they love the festive atmosphere. With the live music, flower arrangements and enthusiastic team, it feels like a party. So, I can’t wait for Thursdays; it’s a joy working with everyone for something greater than myself – Rochelle Smith, Volunteer


We serve between 90-120 guests each week over the course of the month. We advertise in the area to local soup kitchens, lunch programs, and food pantries including the West Side Campaign Against Hunger (WSCAH) at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew. Many of our guests are Spanish speakers who may travel from outer boroughs to eat with us. We see individuals of all ages including families with young children, especially during the summer. Many of our guests are regulars, from the neighborhood who are looking for a delicious meal and someone to talk to, some are homeless, and others working but struggle to afford adequate food for themselves and/or their families.

Leadership Team

The Judith Bernstein Lunch Program volunteer co-chairs, BJ members Esta Rose and Robin Tunick have been involved in the lunch program for many years and ensure the lunch runs smoothly and our volunteers have what they need. Our Wednesday night cooking session is overseen by longtime BJ Member Carol Gelles who plans each week’s meal and helps to order food.


Our group of volunteers are compassionate, caring and truly make the Judith Bernstein Lunch Program a special place.

Being able to personally help people in need and see and hear first hand how appreciative they are is so gratifying. I think what makes our program so special is that it does not feel like a soup kitchen. Rather, it is a warm happy place where people can come to share a delicious meal with others, listen to music, and be treated with dignity. Every time I am able to make it to volunteer, my day is enriched and I leave with a smile on my face! – Sheryl Checkman

DSC03888-1We are also fortunate to work with the Youth Services Opportunity Program (YSOP) throughout the year, which sends us volunteers of all ages from across the country. They host middle school and high school groups, college students, faith-based groups serving on mission trips and community organizations.  It is a great opportunity for them to learn about us, our guests, and our lunch program and to experience a different way of approaching hunger in New York City.

Needed: Caring individuals to prepare food and set tables on Thursdays from 9:30AM-11:00AM and volunteers to welcome guests, serve lunch and clean up from 11:30AM-1:30PM.

Judith Bernstein Lunch Program