WESTBROOK, Conn. (WTNH) — Food pantries along the shoreline are seeing a rise in food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One pantry in Westbrook says that combined with a drop off in donations during the summer is making it difficult to provide for those in need.
Monday is set up day at the Westbrook Food Pantry located in the basement of Saint Mark’s Catholic Church.
“We have pasta, rice, this bag has raisins,” explained Pantry Manager Bob Eburg.
Volunteers started in the morning by organizing donations and then filling paper shopping bags.
“It’s usually about 15 to 16, sometimes 20 pounds of food,” said Eburg.
They also have a good supply of eggs, meats, and produce.
“This week it’s…. everybody’s going to get five potatoes, a couple of onions, a bag of carrots,” explained Eburg.
Monday they are preparing to feed 240 families for pick up on Tuesday. Quite a bit more than before the pandemic.
“It’s two and a half times more,” said Eburg. “At one time it was over three almost three and a half times more than we normally did.”
Westbrook is part of The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries which serves 11 towns. It runs five food pantries that serve 700 families, 28,000 pounds of food per week, a 25% increase.
“I’ve gotten ‘thank you I don’t know what I would have done without you,’” said Eburg. “And this year it was all ‘I’ve never had to do this in my life.’”
Shoreline’s seven meal sites serve 1.4 million to-go meals a week. That’s a 10% increase, although some sites are well over double.
Between the Connecticut Food Bank along with produce and meat suppliers they do get donations, but when it comes to community donations – especially during the summertime – donations have dropped off so they’re hoping people will be able to help out a little more.
“Cereal, spaghetti sauce, beans,” said Eburg. “They didn’t have any canned vegetables. I haven’t seen that in a while.”
The pantries will accept any type of non-perishables and at the Westbrook location, those can be dropped off in a box set up outside the pantry at any time.