Food Shelf issues call to meet the 'Challenge'

By Tom Phelan - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Thu., Mar. 17, 2011
Volunteers at the counter add meats, milk and other special items into the grocery carts at the Enfield Food Shelf. Photos by Tom Phelan.
Volunteers at the counter add meats, milk and other special items into the grocery carts at the Enfield Food Shelf. Photos by Tom Phelan.

Enfield’s two non-governmental, non-profit food distribution organizations have issued the call for donations of food and money to help replenish their shelves during the annual Feinstein Challenge.

At stake is a share of a $1 million pool of funds from the Rhode Island-based Feinstein Foundation. Each of the organizations can earn a minimum of $250 and a maximum of $40,000. The actual amount of funds received is not a dollar-for-dollar match. It is determined on a pro-rated scale based on the total of all financial and food donations received. Any food items donated are valued at $1 per pound, and added to the amount of any cash and check donations.

The Feinstein Challenge only applies to donations raised by the Enfield Food Shelf and Enfield Loaves and Fishes during March and April.

“This money is what helps us survive over the summer, when donations tend to dry up,” said Enfield Food Shelf Director Linda Bridge during a recent food distribution day at the Alden Street location. “It’s our shot in the arm, and I can rest assured that we’ll be all right until Thanksgiving.”

“Enfield seems to get more and more and more generous and compassionate each year,” said Bridge. As of the middle of March, she estimated that as much as $20,000 and 6,000 pounds of food has already been donated.

“I feel blessed that we are able to do this,” Bridge said, “because I know how hard it is out there. The times are so bad.” She said the people and businesses in Enfield are “just jumping up and saying they will help.”

Bridge doesn’t expect donors to become complacent. She continues to be amazed by the willingness to give for those who don’t have the financial means to feed their families. “Almost everything we get [monetarily] goes directly to purchase food,” Bridge said. “Our overhead is very low. I think people feel comfortable donating to a place like the Food Shelf.”

Although the list of donors throughout the year is substantial, Bridge believes there are many who wait until this time of year to donate, because they know their money will be enhanced by the Challenge funds.

Once during the year – in March - the Enfield Food Shelf re-registers its clients, to certify that the clients’ financial situations qualify them for the goods offered there. Although not everyone has responded to the call to re-register, Bridge is confident that others will come in to go through the process, so they can continue to patronize the Food Shelf.

Prior to the re-qualification, there were 1,110 households registered at EFS, according to EFS President Roger LeBlanc. “We don’t see a change in the number of families coming to us,” said LeBlanc. He added that the people coming in now have children, perhaps have had their work hours cut, or their unemployment funds have run out. “They just can’t make it anymore,” he said. “No one that I registered was not qualified.” Qualification means a person has to be at or below the poverty guidelines established by the USDA.

Food donations are accepted at the Food Shelf, located at 96 Alden Ave., on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Thursdays, noon to 6:30 p.m. EFS staff will also travel to a donor site to pick up large volumes of food.

Monetary donations to the Food Shelf can be sent to P.O. Box 699, Enfield, CT 06083. For more information, call 860-741-7321 or visit enfieldfoodshelf.org.

Loaves and Fishes Director Priscilla Brayson said in the soup kitchen’s news release about the Feinstein Challenge that 53,048 meals were served last year, including 27,684 meals to children. Another 50,341 snacks were served to children participating in after-school programs sponsored by Educational Resources for Children, Inc.

“This soup kitchen would not be able to continue the fight against hunger in our community without help from wonderful benefactors like you,” Brayson said. “We are extremely grateful for any and all support.”

Monetary donations for Loaves and Fishes can be mailed to the agency at P.O. Box 544, Enfield, CT 06083-0544. For more information, call 860-741-0226 or visit www.enfieldloavesandfishes.com

The Feinstein Foundation, which is dedicated to the alleviation of hunger, was founded in 1991 by Rhode Island millionaire Alan Shawn Feinstein.


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