A side-by-side of the new building, taken May 12, 20210, next to the architectural rendering of the new food pantry which is a modular construction. Sections were lowered into place with a crane on May 12, 2021. Contributed photo
The Board of Directors of Neighbor to Neighbor announced on Wednesday that it received a $1.5 million leadership gift from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation.
Neighbor to Neighbor is constructing a new stand-alone 6,363-square-foot building, which will be called The Cohen Center for Neighbor to Neighbor.
Neighbor to Neighbor will have ample space for clients, staff and volunteers under one roof in this new building. The spacious, light-filled environment will enhance their commitment to serve income-qualified clients with dignity and respect. Neighbor to Neighbor offers nutritious canned goods and fresh groceries to promote health and well-being. As pandemic restrictions ease, they plan to gradually transition the food pantry back to their existing client choice model. They plan to continue with special distributions (other than food) throughout 2021 including children’s jackets, pajamas, sheets, blankets, towels, healthcare and personal hygiene products, and detergent.
The new building is situated to the rear and east of the Tomes Higgins House at 248 East Putnam Avenue in Greenwich. It is ADA compliant and has many sustainable design features: energy-super-insulated building envelope, high-efficiency heating and cooling system, and LED lighting throughout. The building is designed for smooth, easy and safe accessibility.
Over the course of the pandemic, there has been an unprecedented increase in need for access to nutritious food, even as the pandemic slowly eases. Hunger and food insecurity affect many people in Greenwich: 20%+ of residents lack the income needed to cover basic necessities, and 28% of Greenwich Public School students qualify for free or subsidized lunches. Experiencing food insecurity at a young age can have lasting effects on children’s development, health and well-being, especially if families have to choose between food and medical care.
Working out of the temporary space at the Arch Street Teen Center, and now the North Greenwich Congregational Church, while the building is under construction, Neighbor to Neighbor staff and volunteers have been providing food assistance to approximately 525 Greenwich family households each week. Home delivery has been in partnership with Transportation Association of Greenwich.
“We are incredibly grateful to Steve and Alex Cohen, who exemplify partnerships in philanthropy by making a transformative investment in the community. Neighbor to Neighbor relies on community partners like Steve and Alex, and we know that their leadership and generosity will inspire others,” said Margaret Tjimos Goldberg, Neighbor to Neighbor Executive Director in a release. “We have seen an increasing need in our community, and currently, 42% of our clients are children. Our mission is to provide reliable and sustained access to food to assist clients in need, and our new building will enable us to support those who rely on us in an atmosphere of kindness and respect.”
“We are happy to be there to help Neighbor to Neighbor reach their goal of building a home to serve Greenwich,” said Alex Cohen, President, Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. “It doesn’t matter what zip code you come from, there will always be people who can use the support of their community.”
First Selectman Fred Camillo said, “As a long-time advocate for investing in our community, especially through public-private partnerships, I commend Steve and Alex Cohen for their continued generosity and investment in resources that provide essential services to our residents, such as Neighbor to Neighbor. Their civic spirit is truly representative of all that we cherish here in Town.”
Neighbor to Neighbor is an independent 501c3 non-profit organization that seeks to improve the lives of financially challenged residents throughout the Greenwich area.
The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation is committed to inspiring philanthropy and community service by creating awareness, offering guidance, and leading by example to show the world what giving can do. Since launching the Foundation in 2001, Steven and Alexandra Cohen have generously funded local and national nonprofit organizations that uplift the communities in which they serve. The Cohens’ giving reflects their personal connection with the causes that inspire them.