Connecticut Food Bank recently sat down with Helen Donovan, Director at the Wolcott Food Pantry to learn more about how the pantry works with local community and responds to summer hunger.
How many families does the Wolcott Food Pantry serve?
The pantry currently has 152 families that are registered with us. Each family is allowed to come to the pantry on a weekly basis. We currently serve between 50 to 60 families, or approximately 160 people on a weekly basis.
What changes has the pantry experienced over the last year?
We have seen a large increase in the number of new families applying for help. The increase is across-the- board among seniors, families or individuals. We have found that our clients were being forced to make hard decisions this past winter on whether to buy food or pay heating bills.
How do you address the issue of summer hunger?
We work with the school system to notify parents of children currently receiving free or reduced price breakfast and lunch and urge them to join the Food Pantry.
What are your greatest challenges?
It’s a challenge to obtain meat and produce/vegetables for our clients. These are large dollar items that our families go without if we don’t have produce. Over the summer there is a decrease in food item donations. Also, due to our demographics, we are not able to participate in state/federal programs that help children on weekends and during the summer.
What are your greatest successes?
We have not turned away anyone in need. We have also met some great folks along with the way.
How do you go about working with the community for food/funds for the Food Pantry?
The residents of Wolcott support us 100 percent! We host our “Fill the Gazebo” event on our town green twice a year, with satellite sites at our two grocery stores in town. Residents stop by with non-perishable items or monetary donations. Our schools also host collection drives for us several times a year. Many organizations in town have also blessed us with monetary donations that allow us to purchase food items we are in need of.