South Windsor Food Bank seeks donations

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
South Windsor - posted Wed., Jul. 24, 2013
Andrea Cofrancesco, senior services coordinator with the South Windsor Department of Human Services, shows some of the items on the food bank’s shelves. Photo by Annie Gentile.
Andrea Cofrancesco, senior services coordinator with the South Windsor Department of Human Services, shows some of the items on the food bank’s shelves. Photo by Annie Gentile.

The problem is not new - and it’s not a problem that only South Windsor faces. The summer months are typically when local food banks hit their lowest levels, and this year is no exception.

“A lot of groups do food drives and collect around the holidays,” said Andrea Cofrancesco, senior services coordinator with the South Windsor Department of Human Services, who oversees the food bank operation. “People think of the holidays as a time of great need, and that’s true, but the need is just as great in the summer, too.”

Cofrancesco said that with children home from school during the summer months, they are not receiving the school lunches they would normally be getting when school is in session. Additionally, many civic groups that the food bank relies on for regular donations often go on hiatus for the summer.

In a town of approximately 26,000 residents, Cofrancesco said there are about 65 families that rely on the food bank for assistance each month. “It amounts to over 300 bags of groceries that leave here each month,” Cofrancesco said.

“Compared to other towns, the need might not seem as great, but we have a lot of people who come here who never thought they would need to use the food bank, but they’ve lost their jobs and their unemployment is running out,” she said. “We also have a number of elderly people on fixed incomes who are feeling the weight of increases on everything - groceries, gas, their electric bill. It really runs the gamut.”

Cofrancesco said she is heartened by the fact that South Windsor is a very giving community. Churches, local businesses, civic organizations, youth groups and individuals all help in various ways with food drives and donations. “You get the word out for what you need and they just do it. They are wonderful and amazing,” she said.

The South Windsor Food Bank has limited storage space, and Cofrancesco expressed her gratitude also to members of the Avery Street Church and the Wapping Community Church for providing them with additional storage space. During the holidays, Cofrancesco said they were able to store additional food donations at the two churches and move them over to the food bank as their shelves emptied out.

On a recent weekend, the local Democratic Town Committee held a Christmas in July food drive at the local grocery stores, which has helped fill the shelves, albeit for a little while. The food bank was also fortunate to receive 40 boxes of food in May from the annual postal carriers’ food drive - a first for their food bank.

“We don’t want to inundate people, but we do want people to know that we always need items such as tuna fish and peanut butter. We also need toiletries. They are expensive, but a necessity. When people think of drives, they think of food needs but things like toilet paper, toothpaste and deodorant - they are all necessities,” said Cofrancesco.

Any South Windsor resident in need of food assistance is encouraged to contact the Human Services Department, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at 860-648-6361 and schedule an appointment with a caseworker. Cofrancesco said the department does have some guidelines to establish a means testing, but they try to look at the whole situation for someone calling in need of assistance. There is a short application and caseworkers may also recommend other town services that might also be helpful.


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