By Will Oxford
A question I get quite a bit when telling people about my job at Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry and Clothing Closet is: “What do you guys need more of?” I think they sometimes expect me to say things like, “More canned veggies” or, “we could really use some tuna.” But, when I'm being really honest, I make sure and say that we could always use money. Don't get me wrong: we are always happy to receive boxes of canned food, crates full of fresh produce, and bags of clothes for our clothing closet. These things are without a doubt going to impact the lives of our guests who come in every Saturday. The thing about money is that we can use it to get things that people might not consider a food pantry having to deal with. For example, we need it to order paper goods for our hospitality table, which serves over 300 guests a week coffee and something sweet before they get in line for their bag; we need it to make sure the undercroft where we feed our guests each week is safe and warm; and we need it to make much needed changes to our physical pantry, so that we can accommodate our rising number of guests each month. You might be thinking, “That’s great and all, but I’m not in a place where I can give cash. What can I do?” Well my friends, for the next 8 days here is how you can help:
We are currently in a competition to receive a $20,000 grant from Wal-Mart. For us to win the money, we have to be one of the top 75 vote getting pantries out of the 150 competing. At the time of this post being written we are currently number 42, so not high enough for me to be completely confident just quite yet. This is where you come in!
I’ll give you the site to go to in a bit, but before you vote, please make sure you are voting for “Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry and Clothing Closet” in New Haven, CT. Loaves and Fishes seems to be a popular name for food pantries (I wonder why….), so there are a lot in the competition. I’m sure they are all well deserving of your vote, but let me tell you what issues we are facing and how we would spend the money, and hopefully you’ll see how desperately needed this grant is for Loaves & Fishes, New Haven.
We are currently the largest food pantry in New Haven, one of the poorest, hungriest cities in the country. Our numbers have been growing exponentially since 2012, and they have exploded over the past 6 months. We served the same number of guests through July of this year as we did the entire year of 2013. We do not have the storage space currently to hold the amount of produce and meat that are needed each week. This grant would help us purchase a walk-in freezer and fridge which would automatically make our storage capabilities more suited to the current need we face. We would also use some of these funds to hire a part time chef to come in each week, and prepare a recipe containing the items our guests receive in their weekly bag. Samples of the recipe would be handed out on Saturdays as well as printed recipe cards in both English and Spanish.
Friends, I urge you to go to www.walmart.com/holidaymakeover every day for the next 8 days and vote for “Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry and Clothing Closet.” No matter your thoughts on Wal-Mart, know that this grant is going to impact lives in an important way. Thank you for your help and support!
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