Plymouth Community Food Pantry

When I tell someone that I work and volunteer at a Food
Pantry, they ask about the operations of such an endeavor.
No matter how many times I am asked this question, I
pause to think about the affect this will have on the person
with whom I am conversing. If the person is from another
town or state, I usually try to give them the big picture.
I describe the relationship we have with the Connecticut
Food Bank and the various non-profits that assist us such
as the United Way of West Central CT, Salvation Army,
Litchfield 4-H, Terryville Lions Club, and Farmers to
Families Program. I help them understand that the Pantry
is only as strong as the organizations that are able to help
fill the shelves with non-perishables such as canned vegetables, rice, soup, macaroni, tuna, baking supplies, mac
& cheese, juices, paper and cleaning supplies and, yes,
even cat and dog food and perishable items such as fresh
milk, vegetables and fruit, and a variety of frozen meats
(pork chops, deli slices, hams, pork loin, ground beef,
etc.), poultry, and fish. I also explain the relationship we
have built with donors such as Adams Hometown Market
(breads and pastries), Main Street Community Foundation
(diapers, formula, and baby food), and the Lions Club,
United Way of West Central CT, Archdiocese of Hartford,
Harvard Plymouth Insurance, and the Thomaston Savings
Bank, all of whom donate funds so that we can purchase
the items that we are unable to attain through our supply
chain. Lastly, I describe the charitable giving by individuals, whether it is a $5 donation or a $500 donation and
the food that is brought to us by local churches, schools,
families, and gardeners. Throughout this conversation I
try to help them understand that behind the doors of our
building there is a village that works in unison to allow us
to do what we do. My hope is that they return to their town
or state with a better perspective of what their local Food
Pantry is most likely doing to cultivate an environment
whose sole purpose is to end food insecurity. I even suggest that maybe they can contribute, in some small way, to
their Pantry’s success.
If you happen to be a Plymouth resident asking me the
same question, my answer will be completely different. I
will begin by describing the appreciative clients we serve.
I will help you to understand that they could be you or
me, someone who might have been furloughed or downsized from their job, maybe out of work with a disability. They may be someone going through a divorce or has
had a spouse pass away recently or a senior citizen trying
to manage expenses on Social Security and a small pension. I will help you to become aware of the fact that all of
our clients have to make difficult choices between putting
food on the table, paying rent and utilities, clothing their
children, paying medical bills, paying for medication and
much more. Frequently, putting food on the table will lose
out. This is the moment the Plymouth Community Food
Pantry can serve its mission, to work within the community to end hunger, its causes and effects, to serve without
passing judgement.
I want you to know that it doesn’t matter how long a client will require our service. They can shop for one week
or once a week for a month to help their family clear an
unexpected hurdle. Or they can shop once a week for a
year or years if their need is permanent. The only qualification is a form of identification and proof of residence.
Once they stop by the Pantry, we will always keep them
informed of complementary programs offered through the
Plymouth school system and Human Services, Head Start,
United Way, etc. Of course, during our conversation I will
proudly brag about our supportive Board of Directors and
our dedicated and cohesive group of volunteers. Despite
the fact that most of our volunteers belong to an at-risk
age group in danger of contracting Covid-19, they insisted
on remaining open during this pandemic. The volunteers
worked feverishly with the Board to develop a plan that
would keep the Pantry open to serve our clients in a safe
and responsible manner. Things have gone so well that
a new plan is currently being created that will allow our
clients to choose between shopping for themselves once
again or continue with curbside pick up or delivery as we
have done for the past five months. So, the next time you
see me, feel free to ask how the Pantry is operating in these
crazy times. Just be careful, I might give you an answer
that will induce you to becoming an integral part of its
success.