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CT Checkup: Guilford business owner collecting food for those in need during pandemic

New Haven

GUILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — “We just can’t forget that even in the worst times, we need to give,” said Cindy Wallace, a small business owner in Guilford. 

At her store, Cilantro Specialty Foods and Coffee Roasters, she’s made some changes to survive the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We transformed ourselves into what would become an essential business,” said Wallace. “So we brought in some groceries, dairy, all kinds of things.” 

What used to be their seating area is now a mini grocery store filled with produce, meats and even chocolates for the upcoming Easter holiday. 

Cilantro brought in inventory from The Village Chocolatier down the block, which was forced to close its doors, in hopes to ease their burden through all of this. 

“What’s this going to look like if Cilantro is standing and nobody else is around here,” said Wallace. “That’s a terrible thought.”

The generosity continues outside the shop where a grocery cart is set up for some “curbside giving.” Customers can donate canned goods that Wallace will then bring to local food pantries. 

She said the cart fills up almost every day. 

“I think it’s great that they’re not only servicing people that come in and actually buy things,” said customer Nonnie Dahnke. “But also helping out their community at the same time.”

Cilantro’s continued fight to stay open and support its community is providing some much-needed light during these tough times. 

“It’s easy to find the dark side of the cloud in the situation,” said Rance Hillier, a 20-year Cilantro customer. “You get a little bit of hope when you see the stores that are still open, especially in a small town like Guilford.”

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