NEWINGTON – Despite the town being under a shutdown right now, meals are going out in all directions.
Newington Human Services Department has turned its regular Food Bank operations into a mobile system, with several options for families to get food on their tables.
Grab-and-Go pre-packed bags of food are available to registered households at Newington Town Hall. People can make an appointment and staff will bring out packaged food to them curbside outside of the government center entrance. Additionally, the department is utilizing Dial-a-Ride service to deliver meals to families who are homebound.
Those who are not registered but feel they have a need and could be eligible are being asked to call 860-665-8590 to schedule a phone intake.
“We have had awesome community response offering assistance with volunteering and donations,” Human Services director Carol LaBrecque said. “It takes a village.”
Financial casework coordinator Pam Wassik is organizing volunteers, among many other duties.
“We’re trying to minimize the face-to-face contact,” Wassik pointed out. “We’re able to serve three clients every half hour during food bank hours and we have three carriage runners per food bank day. We know ahead of time how many people are in a household and when they’re in the parking lot they give us a call.”
The packages contain everything from meat and fresh produce to non-perishables and other items.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase in deliveries,” LaBrecque said. “Anyone over 60 who is not comfortable coming out should be self-isolating. We’re adding to a delivery list and the Newington Senior & Disabled Center’s Dial-A-Ride has graciously assisted us in dropping packages outside their door.”
Staff are also keenly aware of the fact that some families who didn’t require food assistance in the past may have encountered new challenges with the COVID-19 health crisis and business shutdown.
“Our social worker is pre-screening people who have lost their jobs or have some type of decrease in income because of the coronavirus,” Wassik explained.
Families who have all they need but would like to help their struggling neighbors are encouraged to drop off donations to Town Hall during regular hours, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A shopping carriage has been placed inside the lobby for donations, along with a sign-in sheet. Call 860-665-8590 to let staff know that you made a drop-off.
All items received are quarantined per food bank protocol before being packaged up for distribution.
Any grocery items are welcomed, with a particular emphasis on canned pasta, canned fruit, baked beans, jarred spaghetti sauce, juice, coffee, tea, boxed dessert mixes, rice mixes, canned vegetables, canned meat, jelly and condiments.
Newington Senior & Disabled Center has continued its Meals on Wheels program and in lieu of serving a daily lunch at the facility, staff are distributing meals for members to enjoy at home in one bulk package for the week.
“We have about 50 people signed up for that right now,” Senior Center director Dianne Stone said. “Some are coming in to pick them up and for others we’re delivering them.”
The senior center is also trying to start a volunteer grocery program.
“We’re encouraging people to turn to their friends, family and neighbors to get their groceries for them, but if they’re really stuck, we’re recruiting volunteers to do their shopping,” Stone said.
Call 860-665-8778 to learn how to volunteer for this program.
Newington Public Schools has been facilitating an emergency meals program since school has been out of session. Meals are available to students and minors living in their households at several locations, including Newington High School, John Wallace Middle School and Elizabeth Green Elementary School.
Breakfast and lunch kits are also being delivered to select neighborhoods by a mobile fleet of buses.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or email@example.com.