Food pantry pops up at Coast Guard Academy

New London

Volunteers, many of them working without pay themselves, are helping run the pop up food pantry started by the southeastern Connecticut chapter of the Chief Petty Officers Association or CPOA.

“I’ve had to explain to my children which is an awkward conversation to explain that we aren’t getting paid today,” said Craig Breverman, President, SECONN CPOA. “Today would be pay day for us and we are going to eat the food in our house?”

As Coast Guard Admiral Karl Schultz said in a tweet this is the first time in history servicemembers in a U.S. Armed Force have not been paid during a shutdown.

The Coast Guard Academy provided the space in Leamy Hall and volunteers and donations are providing the help.

“We have two little ones and another one on the way so this is just… it’s so heartwarming and touching that our community really took care of us this time,” said Jaclyn Collett, whose husband serves in the Coast Guard.

“We’ve had married couples,” said Breverman. “I’ve had people crying.”

Related Content: Coast Guard families struggling without pay during shutdown

Along with the food for people and pets, there are hygiene products and even cash for gas because the men and women in uniform still need to go to work even without pay.

“The uncertainty now is really hurting people,” said Katie Walvatne with the Spouses Association of Southeastern CT. They too are helping organize the food pantry.       

Many who pick up food for their families come back later to volunteer.

“This is our thing, it’s what we do. We all wear blue. We’re one big family,” said U. S. Coast Guard Master Chief Dale McCurry.

On Tuesday, 140 turkeys were delivered to the pantry. They all came from the Gemma Moran Food Center in New London. We’re told that that same food center is going to bring a produce truck there on Wednesday, so that means fresh fruits and vegetables will also be available.

“It’s now our turn to receive and once we get on our feet we’ll give it all back,” said John Hoxie, who is among about 160 civilian employees at the Coast Guard Academy on furlough. 

“You know it also brings awareness that when we’re in a better position too how much there is still need just because sometimes you don’t think about it,” said Collett.

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