Food pantry visits on the rise
The economic reports are that the economy is strong and unemployment is low, compared with the recession of 2008 and 2009, but the number of visits to the Wilton Food Pantry is actually on the rise.
There were 2,000 food pantry visits in the fiscal year that ended June 30, compared with 1,600 the year before, according to Sarah Heath, director of social services.
That’s an increase of 25%.
“I really think it’s a case of us getting the word out,” Heath said, referring to how her administration has promoted the food pantry since she took over the position five months ago.
The food pantry is in the lower level of the Comstock Community Center, where the Social Services offices are.
While other food pantries in the region are struggling to have enough food for the fall because donations drop off during the summer, Wilton’s food pantry is in good shape, Heath said. She credited regular donations from the Kiwanis Club for keeping the food pantry on solid ground.
“They do their food drive at the Village Market and Stop & Shop every three or four months,” she said, adding a recent drive brought in a big donation of food, cash and gift cards.
Another big donation came from Temple B’Nai Chaim, which collected for the food pantry as part of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement on Sept. 29.
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.
“In addition to Kiwanis, we work with many other groups, churches, temples, youth groups, etc., to do food drives for our food pantry. We also received donations of meals for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for our clients who celebrate these holidays from the JMoms” (a group of Jewish women who wish to give back to their community).
The outreach never stops
“We are trying very hard to get the word out, because we believe there are people who are eligible who may not know about it. We are making sure they are accessing the food pantry,” Heath said.
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 by food stamps.