BLOOMFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Bloomfield Congregational Church may not be able to hold services as usual during the pandemic, but it’s food programs are still going strong helping their community. 

Their Bloomfield Backpack Program, which typically sends meals home with local elementary school students, is now working with social services to provide 100 bags of food a week to families in need. The need for these services has increased significantly since the pandemic shutdowns began. 

“We’re one of the few backpack programs in the state that [is] still operating,” said Maria Grove. Program director of the Bloomfield Backpack Program. “So we’re very proud [of] that and it’s just meant a lot to be able to continue to support the town.” 

The food ministry has nearly tripled the number of people they are feeding during this pandemic, but Pastor Shawn Fisher says that through new community partnerships they’ve been able to keep up with demand. 

“The only way that we would be able to serve all those people is if there were a partnership, a strength of community,” he explained. 

And that strength came from individual donations and from other Bloomfield churches looking to help. 

“Those kinds of things keep happening,” Fisher said. “The Wintonbury Baptist Church, the Chinese Baptist Church, who then brought all kinds of additional food. And then one person tells another person.” 

Volunteer Shannon Mungavin says she was amazed by the churches and individuals that chose to contribute. 

“So many people have stepped up and helped and created that community that’s needed,” she said. 

It’s this community support, and the unknown of how long this pandemic may last, that prompted the church to even establish a Community Advisory Council starting this summer. 

“We don’t know what will happen with the schools in the Fall,” said Grove. “We might have to come up with a new plan so we really need the community’s input of how to best reach the people that need it the most.”

Pastor Shawn says that the new relationships that have come out of this pandemic will only become stronger in the weeks, months, and years to come. 

“These relationships, once they’re built, they’re going to be leveraged in different ways to do even more,” he explained. 

Those looking to donate or to join the Community Council should visit the Bloomfield Backpack Program Facebook page.