For 35 years, Daily Bread Food Pantry, a Danbury non-denominational, non-profit agency, has provided food free-of-charge to low- and moderate-income families in need. On November 14, local and state dignitaries, residents, supporters, and clients gathered to celebrate the comprehensive reconfiguration of the Pantry’s interior space.
According to the United Way’s financial hardship report from Fall 2018, Connecticut is one of the richest states in America yet about 40 percent of all households in the state fall below the poverty line or exist just above it.
“The more that we can offer programs like this, and I know, not necessarily this year, but in the past, there have been literally thousands of families over several weeks that have taken advantage of this pantry,” said Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton. “That is a testament to the volunteers, the whole program, the city, everybody coming together and making sure that nobody goes hungry in this difficult time.”
“Food insecurity has become a pervasive problem. Fortunately, here in Danbury, Mayor Boughton and the city have taken a strong stance against hunger. The Danbury Food Collaborative, spearheaded by the United Way of Western CT, has also been a key player in this fight,” explained Debbie Landzberg, president of the Board of Directors and project manager for the renovation.
Daily Bread Food Pantry is one of eleven agencies in the Collaborative that work together to help families in need.
“These families struggle to afford the most basic necessities like housing, groceries, childcare, transportation,” Landzberg said.
Local architect Leigh Overland, chair of the Danbury Architectural Advisory Committee, who has donated his services to countless non-profit organizations over the years, helped design the new pantry, making it more spacious, safe and accessible for its guests.
“What hit me was that the people that were inside the pantry, they are like you and I… they just want to eat; for whatever reason, they need to shop there. I thought, how do I make this experience better?” said Overland. “It was a humbling experience to be able to make the use of the pantry the highlight of their day versus a necessity of their day.”
Becoming a Volunteer
Daily Bread depends mainly on the work of devoted volunteers who staff the Pantry, pick up and receive food, stock its shelves and do much behind-the-scenes work.
There is always a need for help. Those interested in lending a hand and joining the volunteer team can contact the Pantry or stop by and check out the newly renovated facility.
Your In-Kind Donation Can Change Lives
Daily Bread Food Pantry serves Greater Danbury families in need due to illness, disability, job loss, low wages and/or personal or family crises. According to Landzberg, the Pantry now “welcomes 500 to 700 different households every month, and about 4,000 households each year.”
The volunteer-run agency receives donations of food and funds from local civic groups, businesses, schools, religious organizations and individuals and it partners with supermarkets and the Connecticut Food Bank. However, as the population in need grows, the demand for more donations also increases.
“I know we’ve supported the pantry for several years now – we are continuing our efforts here [at Ingersoll Auto of Danbury] until mid-December again – we put the bins out and sent out another message to our team to collect for the upcoming holidays,” said Jen Gilbertie, who oversees community partnerships and social media for Ingersoll Auto of Danbury.
Imagine what the impact would be if each local business could do the same…
Daily Bread allows every family to shop at the Pantry once per month and, each time, they can bring home approximately fifty to eighty pounds of groceries. No one is ever turned away without food.
For business owners and residents willing to join in that effort, Daily Bread is most in need of the following items:
Non-perishable items: Canned tuna, salmon or chicken; pasta, rice (1- or 2-pound bags), soup (especially chicken noodle!), macaroni and cheese, canned vegetables, canned fruit, beans (canned or dry), breakfast cereal (hot or cold), marinara sauce and canned tomato products, meal-in-a-can (beef stew, spaghetti & meatballs, etc.), peanut butter, jelly and more.
Toiletries: Shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, soap and hand sanitizer.
Funds are also needed to replenish their shelves and refrigeration units, which are emptied every week. Daily Bread accepts checks, supermarket gift cards, and PayPal donations through its website.
The Pantry is open to all residents in the Greater Danbury area in need of help. They are requested to bring photo identification, a current bill with mailing address and reusable bags.
It Takes a Village
“Remember, the measurement of the community really is not how you treat the best among us but how you treat the least among us,” concluded Mayor Boughton.
During this holiday season, while shopping for your groceries, consider adding a few extra items and donating to the Daily Bread Food Pantry. It takes a village to make a difference and make a positive impact on the lives of our brothers and sisters in need. Spread the word!
The reconfiguration of the Daily Bread Food Pantry was funded by a Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the City of Danbury. It also counted on the support of the Saint James Episcopal Church, and funds donated by the Ridgefield Thrift Shop and the Woman’s Club of Danbury/New Fairfield.
Daily Bread Food Pantry is located behind St. James Church at 25 West Street and can be accessed from the church’s rear parking lot on Terrace Place. For more information, visit the organization’s website at dailybreadfoodpantry.com, like their Facebook page dailybreadfoodpantry or call 203-748-3561.