Connecticut Food Bank recently sat down with Wendy Jolls, Food Pantry Coordinator at the Monroe Food Pantry to get an understanding of the need in Monroe, and how the pantry is meeting the ever-increasing need.
How many families does the Monroe Food Pantry serve each month?
We have 228 families who are qualified to shop at the pantry but on a typical month we serve about 120 to 150 families.
Have there been any changes in need over the last year?
Our needs have changed because of the increase in volume in monthly clients. Last year we saw an average of 70 to 100 families a month. We’ve also made some changes by giving out more fresh produce which we purchase from a wholesaler to supplement the products/produce that we get from Connecticut Food Bank.
What are your greatest challenges?
Getting the community to understand the need in Monroe. We are in a fairly affluent community and a lot of people here forget that Monroe was a farm community before all the larger homes were built and the families that remain don’t have their farms anymore and are struggling to make ends meet. People have this idea that all people who shop at a food pantry are homeless or don’t want to work. That’s a huge misconception. Most of our families are what’s called the “working poor.” They have jobs but either their hours or pay was cut or they make minimum wage I have clients who made good money and lost their jobs due to the economy and who are having a hard time finding a job. We have clients who lost their home and their savings due to an illness.
What are your greatest successes?
Bringing in healthier choices to our clients and giving out recipes and ideas of how to prepare foods in a healthier way. We also love getting the kids involved because students in Monroe and the surrounding towns need volunteer hours.