food pantries

Food Pantries Work To Keep Up With Demand During COVID19 Pandemic

NBC Universal, Inc.

Around the state, food pantries are working to create new ways to feed the needs of those who are struggling to secure the food.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Vincent Depaul in Waterbury has seen an influx in the number of people who need food items.

"It's a little bit more difficult than before," said Paul Scampolino, the food services director at St. Vincent DePaul. "I mean we average probably between 300 to 400 meals a day."

The organization's mission is still the same even though the coronavirus has forced them to switch up their day-to-day services.

"It''s very difficult with this kind of operation and you just can't shut down," said Scampolino. "There's a lot of people out there that need food."

Before the pandemic, the organization had about six or seven, volunteers but now they're struggling to find volunteers to help.

Loretta Longo volunteers at the pantry at least one day a week. She started after being temporarily let go from her job as a nurse at a private practice.

"People who come up to these doors really need help," said Longo. "I just think it's important in life to give back."

Typically, the agency provides about 100 bags of groceries every Thursday. Since the pandemic started, the number of bags of groceries needed every week has doubled.

"This COVID-19 left us with probably zero volunteers," said Scampolino. "Many of our volunteers were seniors but have decided to abide by both state and federal guidelines."

The demand for food and meals is an issue for seniors.

New Opportunities Inc. in Waterbury is a federal-funded program whose mission is to supply meals for seniors. The agency has had to take a different approach to provide meals.

"We normally have emergency meals like a five-day pack which is normally used become of inclement weather," said William Rybczyk, director of research, development, and planning for the New Opportunities. "Since this pandemic started, what we've found is that we've gone through that inventory."

New Opportunites Inc. is currently looking to hire more drivers to help with food deliveries.

"We can definitely use some more hands-on-deck in terms of the driver needed," said Rybczyk. "A lot of drivers are not used to working full-time so we're looking to add on four to six drivers."

If you would like to apply for a driver position, you can click here.

St. Vincent DePaul provides bags of groceries for those in need every Thursday from 1 p.m. - 2 p.m. and provides meals for those in need every day.

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