For residents driving up on Terrace Place on the morning of the November 19, a long line coming out of the St. James Episcopal Church parking lot indicated that despite the cold, people were determined to wait to have an opportunity to pick up food at the Daily Bread Food Pantry to celebrate Thanksgiving with their loved ones.
As I walked inside of the room, there was the noise in unison of plastic bags being opened, filled, tied and piled, following categories, from boxes of stuffing, cans of cranberry sauce, and gravy to all sorts of fresh produce and fruits. More than 50 volunteers, working hand-in-hand in perfect synchrony, didn’t stop until the last bag was filled and all the boxes of food were empty.
“We have tons of produce that is going to be available – zucchini, butternut squash, onions, sweet potatoes and white potatoes, and various other produce – and tons of different fruits – clementines, pears and apples, berries,” said the group’s board member Debbie Landzberg, adding, “We are really focusing on the healthy food now because we know it is so important for people’s well-being, and children’s development, and all of that.”
Every year, Daily Bread reaches out to the community and serves almost 500 families, probably equivalent to about 2,000 people, according to Landzberg. “These are people in need who have trouble putting food on the table because their expenses are just so high.”
To fulfill the traditions of a Thanksgiving feast, each household also received a turkey, along with all the fixings, like stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy, and a choice of different kinds of pie.
“We are really happy to be helping everybody; we have tons of volunteers from various schools, and civic organizations, businesses, banks, law firms and union lodges, from all over the place. Everyone is really pitching in, in picking up the food, helping with the storage. Just a million things have been behind the scene and it’s happening now. A lot of people have stepped forward to help,” said Landzberg.
A group of youth stood out among the volunteers. Their vibe was contagious, and their pace was if they were getting ready for a 5K marathon.
“Wooster School in Danbury has been involved in the food pantry program for several years. Several students, including some international students, volunteered at Daily Bread’s Thanksgiving Distribution,” explained Wooster School Center for Social Impact Director, Megan Rajnanshi.
“This is my second year with the students. Every year, we do a turkey drive. Our students can help the whole morning and also get a sense of why we do those turkey drives.”
Rajnanshi explains that students have the opportunity to put things into perspective, and because Wooster School is in Danbury, they can get involved in the community a lit bit more and see the range of people and families that need help. “They realize they can help in small ways that make a big impact.”
Daily Bread Food Pantry helps about 600 to 800 families every single month, and shelves, refrigerators and freezers are quickly depleted.
“There are very few donations coming through the rest of the year,” said Landzberg. “We do have our partners and The CT Food Bank is amazing, and supermarkets that work directly with us. But we really need other people to step up, so we would appreciate it. Whether financially or in-kind donations, we can purchase more effectively from the food bank at very low cost. Though in-kind donations are much appreciated, financial donations are hugely effective in helping more people.”
The Daily Bread Food Pantry is located at 25 West Street behind St. James Episcopal Church. Donations are welcome and just a click or a phone call away. Just visit www.dailybreadfoodpantry.com or call 203-748-3561. You can also follow them on Facebook at dailybreadfoodpantry.
From Left: Jill Shaw, Daily Bread Food Pantry Coordinator, and board members Debbie Landzberg, Juan Medrano, Roseanne Benvenga, Tom Armmelright and Neela Persuad
From left: Danbury Wooster School students Matt Eskenazi, Christian Nast, Alan Jos, Drew Fortson, Ingrid Li and Michael Sun (kneeling) with the school’s Center for Social Impact Director, Megan Rajnanshi.