NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — The Salvation Army celebrated the opening of its new service center and food pantry in Norwich on Friday. 

During the height of the pandemic, Norwich like many other towns set up food distribution events with Connecticut Food Share.

“We were serving a thousand families every Monday morning there… The need is here. I am afraid the need is growing,” Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom (R-Conn.) said. 

Mayor Nystrom welcomes the Salvation Army’s new Service Center opening in the Westgate Center shopping plaza. The Salvation Army used to have a location on Main Street in Norwich, but it was closed due to a fire a few years ago.

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“We were able to help with food it would usually be a gift card and of course with having a food pantry we’re buying the food we’re going to be able to stretch those dollars and we’re going to be able to do the most good and help more people who are hungry,” said Debra Ashcraft, major in the Salvation Army. 

Antonio Bonilla goes to the food pantry at St. Vincent De Paul place and many in the city are happy there is now another pantry to serve those in need. 

“I’m just glad there’s resources and there’s people to help. “I’m very grateful and there’s people out there that will be very grateful as well,” Bonilla said.  

The new center also has a fully stocked freezer for people who want lunch meats, other meats, and bread. The pantry is open to anyone who needs it on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“It’s a choice food pantry which means people can kind of come in and shop and it provides more dignity to those we are serving,” Ashcraft said.   

The Salvation Army’s service center also helps people with rental and utility assistance as well.