Neighbor to Neighbor Moves Food Pantry to Arch Street Teen Center

The Neighbor to Neighbor food pantry set up inside Arch Street Teen Center. Contributed photo

The Neighbor to Neighbor food pantry set up inside Arch Street Teen Center. Contributed photo

The outpouring of compassion from Greenwich residents is rapidly increasing.

Citizens want to reach out to help as the ripple effect of COVID-19 creates more unemployment, food insecurity and medical fallout.

In this overwhelming global pandemic, working together can make all the difference and building a sense of humanity and grace has to start locally.

As of Monday, March 30, Neighbor to Neighbor has made a significant step in addressing the increased need for food by temporarily moving their distribution location to the Arch Street Teen Center.

Located directly off I-95,the Arch Street location allows for easy access and truck deliveries of food and supplies.

The space is larger than Neighbor to Neighbor’s facility at Christ Church, which could not accommodate the current need for staff and volunteers to practice safe social distancing.

The volunteer force dropped by 85% as safe distancing standards were adhered to and client visits to the pantry were severely limited.

They expect to return to the Christ Church location when social distancing is no longer a necessity and anticipate that the new building on the Christ Church campus will be functional in early 2021.

Duncan Lawson, operations manager, along with his staff and
volunteers are working tirelessly to accommodate more people needing more food almost overnight.

Margaret Tjimos-Goldberg, Executive Director of Neighbor to Neighbor, said that in order to handle more requests from food-insecure residents, Neighbor to Neighbor shifted from a ‘client choice’ pantry to a system of pre-packed bags of groceries for delivery and distribution.

“To put it simply, we needed a bigger boat,” said Margaret Tjimos-Goldberg. “Now, we can ramp up to 450 bags per week, maybe even 500.”

Anticipating the booming need for food, Icy Frantz offered to connect Neighbor to Neighbor with Kyle Silver, the Executive Director and CEO of the Arch Street Teen Center.

“Now more than ever, we need to work together to meet the needs of those in our community,” Frantz said. “We need to be a little less selfish and a little more flexible. That is happening all around us and it is such a good thing.”

“Arch Street cannot do what it normally does – to provide a safe haven and a social outlet for teens,” she continued, adding gratitude to Teen Center director Kyle Silver. “I am glad the space can be repurposed to meet the needs at this time.”

Greenwich Parks & Rec Dept is allowing Neighbor to Neighbor use of two large storage buildings behind the Teen Center, owned by the Town.

“We want to give credit to Darrin Wigglesworth, Park Operations Manager in the Parks & Recreation Dept,” Tjimos-Goldberg said. “The department is allowing us to use that well-needed space for storage and we are most grateful.”

Tjimos-Goldberg said everything has fallen into place for her organization to respond to growing needs of the community.

“At this time, we will not schedule curbside pick-ups at Arch Street, but we will pivot and adjust as assessments continue to be made,” she said.

In partnership with TAG, existing clients are receiving deliveries of groceries.

New clients seeking assistance through the food pantry should not go to Arch Street, but rather call The Dept of Human Services 203-622-3800. Leave your name and number and they will return the call.

Tjimos-Goldberg joined Neighbor to Neighbor four months ago. New to the Greenwich community, she said she has been impressed with the generosity of spirit in Greenwich.

“There is tremendous goodwill in Greenwich and it defines a dedicated and caring community,” she said. “Fred Camillo has been extremely engaged and supportive. Dr. Alan Barry, Greenwich Commissioner of Human Services for the Town of Greenwich, and his staff have been a great community partner, obtaining added support and fielding new families each day.”

Non-profits are also stepping in to help each other when they can, but budgets are becoming strained.

The United Way was one of the first to help with an emergency grant to Neighbor to Neighbor, and TAG, the Transportation Association of Greenwich, will be delivering bags for Neighbor to Neighbor on an ongoing basis.

Mothers for Others donated a delivery of diapers for Neighbor to Neighbor’s young families.

In addition, Neighbor to Neighbor continues to provide fresh produce and healthy snacks for Community Centers, Inc., and approximately 100 bags of groceries will be prepared for Jewish Family Services to distribute.

“We are receiving names from the school administrators and social services every day. People are concerned. We are all in this space together,” Tjimos-Goldberg said. “The good news is, hopefully, that this collective concern and call to action can bring out the best in people.”

People are invited to donate funds or buy food items for people in need, including broccoli, eggs, rice and bananas, for example. Simply select the food and click to pay.

Visit the Neighbor to Neighbor website: www.ntngreenwich.org