“Get back to work!” Kathleen Kelly, director of Amazing Grace Food Pantry in Middletown teases a volunteer during Amazing Grace’s food distribution, which occurs every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The pantry is affiliated with St. Vincent de Paul in Middletown and feeds about 970 households each month. Shoppers choose food free of charge, and family size determines the quantity of food allocated on each visit.
Kelly said Amazing Grace Food Pantry never turns away people in need and explains they provide for clients through a team of motivated volunteers, donations from the community, and a partnership with Connecticut Food Bank. Through Connecticut Food Bank’s “Perishable Items Program” at retailers, Amazing Graze Food Pantry receives about 500 pounds of frozen meat and other products each month from Middletown and East Hampton Stop & Shop Supermarkets.
Amazing Grace truly is a community pantry. In addition to clients, volunteers come to the pantry from all walks of life. One volunteer, Sam, said he also uses Amazing Grace Food Pantry. At age 18, Sam enlisted in the Army and when home on leave he got into a car accident. He suffered multiple broken bones as well as brain damage. Though the Army offers him a great deal of support, Amazing Grace provides him with a job and a way to give back. “It’s my job,” Sam smiles “I love coming here.”
As the economy continues to challenge many, Kelly has seen a rise in the working poor: breadwinners who work during the week and are forced to get food on Saturdays. “The ones that break your heart are the elderly – people who have worked hard their entire lives and now have to come here because social security isn’t enough.”