Lifestyle

Neena Perez, manager of the Commons at Grace Farms Foundation in New Canaan led a team of culinary staff in preparing 500 meals for people served by agencies in Fairfield County.
Neena Perez, manager of the Commons at Grace Farms Foundation in New Canaan led a team of culinary staff in preparing 500 meals for people served by agencies in Fairfield County. Photo Credit: Photo credit Vanessa Van Ryzin

With Everyone Pitching In Coronavirus Won't Stop These Groups From Feeding Hungry

The coronavirus won't stop people from being hungry in lower Fairfield County where 15,000 families ordinarily rely on food pantry supplies for their meals.

The elderly, too afraid to go out, might already be running out of food and added to that list, a local social service agency employee worries,

Nothing has changed in terms of need so a robust effort is underway among social service organizations to keep the food supplies available to the most vulnerable, Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County Executive Director Kate Lombardo stressed on Friday, March 19 as we prepare to shut-in for the weekend.

Supplies and cash donations are needed by the food bank located in Stamford which supplies 90 agencies in Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford and Wilton. These include food pantries and soup kitchens listed here.

"The pantry reps are coming in two shoppers at a time and can shop for 20 minutes but we're closed to volunteers because we want to keep our employees safe. We can take donations here," said Lombardo.

"We know there are 15,000 families, not counting the homeless, those who live on the streets, who rely on the food we provide to agencies for the pantries. They're still giving away groceries for the home and the home needs groceries because mom and dad may not be going to work. We're pressed to distribute more food than we normally do. The agencies are not doing anything differently. They are open and providing food."

“Even before COVID-19, about 11 percent of U.S. households were considered food insecure, meaning they didn’t have consistent access to sufficient food."

Earlier in the week, Stamford Mayor David Martin called on citizens to help address "food insecurity" with donations to the food bank.

"Even before COVID-19, about 11 percent of U.S. households were considered food insecure, meaning they didn’t have consistent access to sufficient food," the mayor's statement said.

"The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County needs your help now. As the economic impact on families and children grows — so does their need for your help," he continued.

Check donations may be sent to The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County, 461 Glenbrook Road, Stamford. Click here for donation information. Food donations may be brought to the location. Call (203) 358-8898 or email here for information.

"Keep an eye on older neighbors, friends, and relatives. Check in on them by phone and make sure they have enough food in the house and essential meds."

"Keep an eye on older neighbors, friends, and relatives. Check in on them by phone and make sure they have enough food in the house and essential meds. Offer to help sign them up for home delivery or pick up items for them. Even though stores are beginning to offer senior-only hours, it is still a good idea for older seniors, 80 and up, and those who are ill, to avoid stores altogether," said Nicola Gates Holzberger.

She is the director of Member Services for Staying Put, a nonprofit in New Canaan that helps the elderly with rides, household jobs, shopping and errands, among services. Staying Puts is among a half dozen organizations that received cooked meals from Grace Farms Foundation for their clients. Grace Farms closed March 9 to the public due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Grace Farms Foundation is providing meals to many non-profit organizations in Fairfield County during this health crisis. The food is being prepared by its Commons Team, which normally works in the Commons, a part of Grace Farms that serves as a central community gathering place within the River building when the site is open, for visitors to purchase food and beverages. The site also has the Garden which is a separate outdoor fruit and vegetable garden in which food served in the Commons is grown. Excess food is given to local organizations.

Grace Farms Foundation CEO and Founder Sharon Prince acknowledge "an extraordinary team" there that "has the ability to safely cook and donate staples, and we are committed to using our resources to do whatever we can. Right now, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) escalates, that means providing healthy meals for those without food security in our local neighborhoods and communities.”

“I have been preparing my team for two weeks and now we are energized and grateful to continue serving these critical community organizations with nutritious food,” said Neena Perez, Commons Manager. 

Steve Callow, an assistant site manager at Person-to-Person which provides basic needs for those overcoming daily challenges, said Grace Farms has been "proactive in reaching out to us to find out what we need and then providing us with fresh salads and vegetables, tomatoes, rolls, and muffins, and soups. They have also been a consistent donor before the COVID-19 outbreak began."