Neighbor to Neighbor: Food Insecurity Is Still a Struggle

As the town optimistically re-opens businesses and moments of normalcy return to daily routines, it is still a difficult time for many residents, including children who won’t get meals from schools during the summer months.

Neighbor to Neighbor continues to witness high numbers of people in Greenwich who are food insecure and depend on Neighbor for weekly food assistance.

Rhonda Morley, Pam Sloane and Betsy Parker

While the new Neighbor to Neighbor food pantry is being built, dedicated   community volunteers continue to provide support. In the spring of 2020, Lori Jackson and Jaye Richey, leaders of the Faith in Action Committee at St. Paul’s Church in Riverside, noted the dramatic increase in food insecurity as thousands lost their jobs.

“We knew we had to quickly organize a substantial food drive to supplement Neighbor to Neighbor’s inventory,” Jackson said. “We put the word out and mobilized a weekly food drive at St. Paul’s every Thursday morning.”

Recognizing St. Paul’s plea for help, the Social Justice Committee of the Parish of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Agnes, chaired by Betsy Parker, also launched a weekly contactless food drive in Riverside on Tuesday mornings. Through drenching rains and blistering heat, the committee continues to collect shelf stable foods (cereal, rice, beans, pb&j, pasta) and personal care products for Neighbor to Neighbor every Tuesday morning.

This weekly food drive has served as an outpost for Neighbor to Neighbor since they have temporarily relocated to North Greenwich Community Church, while awaiting construction to be completed at their new facility.

“The need still exists and we are going to continue on,” said Pam Sloane, Social Justice committee member and lead communicator of the Tuesday food drive.

“Pam has been a pivotal volunteer and largely responsible for the drive’s success,” said Rhonda Morley, Social Justice Committee member. “Pam is responsible for the amazing outreach to the larger community as well as to our parish. She is fearless in her advocacy for our neighbors in need. And the need continues – 500 households still receive groceries each week. We are a small but essential piece of this support system.”

Both churches have seen extraordinary acts of generosity from the community.

“We have a donor who comes weekly with a large box full of groceries purchases while he shops. He thoroughly enjoys shopping for others,” Morley said, adding, “There’s also a high school student who places flyers in his neighborhood mailboxes, asking for neighbors to donate to Neighbor’s food pantry. He recently dropped off his collection to the Tuesday food drive”

“Volunteers have always provided valuable contributions to this community and COVID brought out the best in them. So many people were brave during a very scary time,” Jackson said. “This also offered a way for people to feel connected to their church, even when they weren’t able to attend services.  They wanted to do good things during COVID, but we cannot relax yet. Grocery prices are going up, shipping food and supplies is more expensive, and these increases impact the people who can least afford it.”

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About the “Fill the Build” Campaign for Neighbor to Neighbor

In the giving spirit of the Neighborhood Champions, Neighbor to Neighbor has launched the “Fill the Build” Campaign, inviting the entire community to help people in need by filling the interior space and contributing towards purchasing fresh and shelf-stable food, chairs, tables, and shelves. The Campaign will run through November 2021. It is being co-chaired by Lori Jackson and John Cooper, both experienced community fundraising volunteers and committed supporters of Neighbor to Neighbor. “We’re excited to offer the community the opportunity to fill the building and open the doors to people in need,” Lori said. “We welcome everyone’s participation,” John emphasized.  “A donation in any amount is most welcome. We want everyone in Greenwich to feel like a part of this neighborhood project.”