People at Eden Autism’s residential homes have been receiving special deliveries, courtesy of one of Eden’s long-time community supporters.

Since mid-July, the Knights of Columbus Princeton Council No. 636 have been purchasing and delivering meals to all of Eden’s 28 group homes and apartments. Every Tuesday, half of Eden’s residences receive lunches for both the participants and staff, with the other half receiving meals the following week. The meals range from pizza to chicken fingers and French fries, often with donuts and other treats included. Roughly 350 meals from Hamilton restaurants have been delivered to Eden residences over the last four weeks.

Joey Rafferty and Francis Rafferty deliver food to an Eden residence. The Knight of Columbus Princeton Council No. 636 plan to deliver meals to Eden’s group homes each week until the end of September.

The Knights of Columbus said it plans to continue providing meals through September. The organization has partnered with local businesses that offer the meals at a discounted price. Vincent’s Pizza and Donuts Time, both located in Hamilton, have been providing a variety of food for Eden’s staff and residents.

“The Knights of Columbus are longtime friends of Eden,” said Eden Autism Chief Development Officer Melinda McAleer. “Many of the members have volunteered for years. Seeing teenagers and young adults join the Knights in serving the men and women in our residential program reassures us that the community will continue to help carry out Eden’s mission for years to come.”

Hamilton resident Joe Bendas is Grand Knight of Princeton Council No. 636 as well as one of Eden’s earliest volunteers. He said delivering meals provides much more than an opportunity to give back—it’s a way to stay connected to Eden during the pandemic.

“What prompted me to start this? It’s simple, I miss Eden,” Bendas said.

Bendas has been recruiting high school and college-age students to help deliver the meals and to volunteer at the Eden 5K and the Eden Family Picnic. Eight of the students have been part of the meal delivery effort.

“My goal is for all of these young people to carry on with Eden for many years to come,” Bendas said

Based in Plainsboro, Eden Autism offers a 12-month school program for 3 to 21 year-olds, vocational training for adolescents and adults, residential services for adults, as well as other resources for people with autism.