Busy times for Naugatuck food bank

Gerhard Roland, vice president of the Naugatuck Ecumenical Food Bank, (left) and food bank member Wayne Vieira help load food to a cart at the food bank on Spring Street on Tuesday. ANDREAS YILMA Citizen’s News

By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck Ecumenical Food Bank is seeing more people coming to its doorsteps for their daily operations compared to earlier this year and a busier holiday season than last year.

Food bank President Marty-Lee Fenton Food and a dozen volunteers eagerly packed bags with food, including turkeys, breads, eggs and vegetables, on Tuesday before Thanksgiving for dozens of people who lined up outside the food bank on Spring Street.

Fenton said her organization handed out holiday baskets to more than 200 people at the Naugatuck Event Center on Monday. The group had extra turkeys which it gave out on Tuesday as well.

Food bank members have seen a small increase in people showing up for food from the start of the year until now, Fenton said.

The organization served 425 people in the February compared to 625 people in October according to its statistics.

“We have 95 new families so far this year as of the end of October,” Fenton said.

This holiday season has seen more people come out for food compared to the previous year.

“This last holiday, we had more (people) this year than we had last year,” said Gerhard Roland, vice president of the food bank.

The food bank is currently getting an average of about 40 to 65 families at the end of the month. Last year, the highest the group received was about 36, Roland said.

Roland said the increase in people can be attributed to food assistance programs coming to an end.

Connecticut Food Share began eight drive through emergency food distribution sites statewide in April 2020 and has closed at the end of October according to reports.

Roland, who has been with the group for at least a decade, expects an increase of people for the club’s normal operations as it heads into the Christmas season.

Despite some grocery stores and restaurants experiencing some food shortages, the food bank hasn’t had the same fate and is doing well in its inventory.

“Our food inventory has been wonderful because everybody in the community has just been unbelievably generous,” Fenton said.

The food bank was told it was going to have problems getting cranberry sauce. However Our Lady of Fatima Roman Catholic Church out of Waterbury donated 550 cans of cranberry sauce.

About 11 local churches donated food, including St. Vincent Ferrer Church of Naugatuck that donated canned fruit. People have also donated food and money as well, according to Fenton.

The Wallingford Food Bank, Target out of Ansonia, the Big Y out of Naugatuck are some other organizations which donate food weekly to the borough group according to Roland.

“We’re extremely appreciative of everything that everybody does for us,” said Fenton, 80, who has been with the organization for 21 years. “Very appreciative. We’re here to help people.”

Paul Ruccio, who has been with club for more than two years, said the community has been very supportive with donations and volunteering.

“It’s been much appreciated. We’ve been fortunate in that respect,” Ruccio said. “We expect that we’re going to need to rely on their support even more so in the coming months because of other outlets stopping their giveaways. We will be here for the community and all the residents in the town.”