Members of the Rotary Club dropped off a significant donation of $7,000 worth of non-perishable food items at West Hartford Town Hall Monday.
By Ronni Newton
Thousands of non-perishable food items arrived at West Hartford Town Hall Monday morning in the trunks of cars and beds of pick-up trucks, donations that will make an enormous impact on the lives of town residents who are struggling with food insecurity.
More than a year into the pandemic, the West Hartford Food Pantry has seen demand increase by over 50%, and Food Pantry Coordinator Nancy Stockman said she is so grateful to the Rotary Club for their extraordinarily generous donation of $7,000 worth of items to stock the shelves.
“This pandemic has impacted everyone,” Stockman said. The donation – of staples like pasta, peanut butter, rice, canned corn, beans, applesauce, and quinoa, will be used to fill the pre-packed bags the Food Pantry gives to its clients.
In addition to food staples, Stockman said the pantry has been distributing cleaning products and other household items, snacks, and baking ingredients.
While the number of households needing the services of the Food Pantry has increased by more than 50%, donations have also increased, Stockman said, particularly at certain times of the year.
There were other major donations to support the Food Pantry and the Town That Cares Fund made over the past year – like those made by Morley School, Montessori School of Greater Hartford, and from a “Happy Birthday” sign fundraising effort started by Adam Gold for his Bar Mitzvah project – but Monday’s donation came at a quiet time for food drives, but when the need remains critical.
“We know that food insecurity is the greatest need,” Rotary Club of West Hartford President Kyle Egress said Monday, as he and other members unloaded thousands of items they had purchased at COSTCO onto carts that volunteers wheeled into the building.
West Hartford Rotary was able to procure a $1,500 grant for the donation, which was then matched by a $3,000 donation by Rotary’s regional organization, Egress said. Members donated the remaining $2,500.
Stockman provided a list of staples needed by the Food Pantry, and Egress said they worked with COSTCO to be able to procure those items in regular – not bulk – sizes.
“It’s pretty powerful to see what $7,000 can buy,” Egress said.
Most of the club’s 35 current members – among them Mayor Shari Cantor – were on hand to help deliver and unload the food items Monday morning.
“Many hands make light work, and today is a perfect example,” Egress said.
“West Hartford is a tremendous, kind, and generous community,” Stockman said. “When you see this, it just warms your heart.”
Rotary has continued to meet virtually over the past year, Egress said. Pre-pandemic, they met at the Pond House at 12:15 p.m. every Monday, and the virtual meetings have continued at that same time. He hopes that in-person meetings can resume by late July.
The Town of West Hartford continues to operate the Food Pantry with curbside distribution bags of food to families in need from a tent in front of Town Hall on Tuesdays from 3:30-5:30 p.m., Wednesdays from 9-11 a.m., and Fridays from 10 a.m.-noon.
Anyone who would like to donate to the Food Pantry can drop off items at the same time as the pantry is open for distribution. Large donations can also be made at other times by calling ahead and making arrangements.
Both West Hartford Stop & Shop stores and Whole Foods on Raymond Road also have collection bins.
For an up-to-date list of what is needed, visit the Food Pantry webpage.
Financial contributions are also very much appreciated and may be sent to: Town That Cares Food Pantry, 50 South Main St., Room 306, West Hartford, CT 06107. Donations can also be made online by clicking here.
For more information on donating food or how you can help, contact Nancy Stockman at [email protected] or 860-561-7569.
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