WILTON — In the coronavirus era, Wilton’s Social Services department is busier than ever. Staff and volunteers have adapted to social distancing and other challenges in order to help residents in need.

After operating a makeshift food pantry for several weeks, Social Services is now operating the pantry again in the lower portion of the Comstock Community Center. “We are thrilled to be back in on our side of Comstock and having our clients in, safely, to utilize our food pantry,” said Sarah Heath, director of social services.

Over the past two weeks, approximately 50 households have been using the pantry, where they can pick up non-perishable food at no cost. “We have new residents needing the food pantry due to job loss. These new clients will learn of everything our department has to offer and we hope it is both helpful and comforting to have this support. We expect our numbers to go up in the coming weeks,” she said.

The food pantry has been set up to promote social distancing in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. “This is a whole new system for both staff and clients, so it is a work in progress. All has gone smoothly thus far so we hope this continues,” Heath said.

To keep grouping at a minimum, only one to two staff members and two clients using the pantry are allowed in at any given time. “We are following the lead of the grocery stores with social distancing, arrows inside indicating direction of traffic pattern, and trying to get clients in and out quickly while accessing what they need.”

Volunteers aren’t allowed into the pantry at the present time “We had an amazing group of volunteers in town who had been a great help to our food pantry; we hope to invite them back soon,” Heath said.

Wilton residents, businesses, and community groups have also reached out to Social Services to help. “We have received many generous donations from many residents and groups in town. It truly is amazing how considerate Wilton residents are. Donations to the food pantry and a few to the general fund of the Wilton Community Assistance Fund (WCAF) allow us to assist with a client’s emergency financial need,” Heath said.

The food pantry is open Mondays and Wednesdays from noon to 4, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon. It can only be accessed by the side entry at Comstock Community Center.

Donations of non-perishable food, household or personal care items, can be dropped off in the tent next to the side of Comstock during the off days of the pantry: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

When the food pantry is open, to give clients privacy, donations may be dropped off in the shed in front of police headquarters at 240 Danbury Road. If someone would rather send a check, it can be made out to the Wilton Community Assistance Fund (501c3) and mailed to: Comstock Community Center, Dept of Social Services/Sarah Heath, 180 School Road, Wilton, CT 06897.

Checks or gift cards can be dropped off at the police department any time.

Residents needing support due to job loss can email Heath at sarah.heath@wiltonct.org or call 203-834-6238. More information can be found on the Social Services page at wiltonct.org.

“We are here for anyone who has any questions about how we can help and what their current resources are,” Heath said.

pgay@wiltonbulletin.com