Food pantry use up over summer

More families are visiting Wilton’s food pantry despite reports the economy is strong and unemployment is low.

A total of 79 families used the food pantry this summer, up from 72 the previous summer, said Sarah Heath, the town’s social services director. The food pantry is in the lower level of the Comstock Community Center.

“That’s a big number for us,” Heath said of the 79 families.

The Department of Social Services also helped 81 children of those families with back-to-school supplies and gift cards, including help from Realty Seven to purchase ChromeBooks for eight children for school and gift cards to PayLess Shoes supplied for all by the Salvation Army.

Seventy backpacks were distributed, about the same number as last year, she said.

Regarding the food pantry, donations of canned and packaged foods did drop during the summer, but fortunately groceries could be purchased to fill out the shelves thanks to donated funding, Health said.

The food pantry had been gearing up to meet the fall holidays, including Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

“We have generous individuals donating meals for our clients to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and we will be offering a delivered meal to seniors or the homebound, and the rest of our clients will get a Thanksgiving basket donated by several different entities in town,” she said.

She credited regular donations from the Kiwanis Club for keeping the food pantry on solid ground.

Heath is grateful for the donations and for the awareness in the community that Wilton has its share of struggling families, some of whom may be between jobs.

The most popular donations are boxes of pasta, jars of peanut butter and cans of tuna. Paper donations, like toilet paper, paper towels and napkins, are also appreciated because those items are not paid for with food stamps.