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Effective Immediately, FAITH Food Pantry Operating By Appointment Only



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Like restaurants across the tri-state region, FAITH Food Pantry (FFP) has changed the way it is serving its client base. During these days of COVID-19 and necessary precautions to further prevent its spread, the town’s food pantry has changed its distribution plan.

The plan was updated twice this week, in fact, the most recent coming March 18.

Until further notice, FFP is operating by appointment only. There will not be regularly scheduled Tuesday morning and Thursday evening pick-up/drop-off times.

Clients who wish to receive a supply of groceries, toiletries, and (if needed) pet care products now need to contact FFP in advance. A volunteer will take the request, pull items from the pantry’s supply, bag the items, and leave them outside the building at 46 Church Hill Road at an appointed time.

The nondenominational pantry (its acronym stands for Food Assistance, Immediate Temporary Help) is on the campus of St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church. It is within its own building, in the southeastern area of the parking lot.

Likewise, those who wish to donate to the pantry are asked to do the same: call ahead to have a volunteer meet them at the building.

FFP Vice President Jill LeBlanc has one important request for donors.

“Please do not just leave things outside the building randomly,” she said Wednesday afternoon.

FFP President Lee Paulsen can be reached at 203-426-5604; LeBlanc is available at 203-837-0816.

The latest change came after a successful, but nerve-wracking Tuesday morning, Paulsen told The Newtown Bee late Wednesday morning.

“We did very well,” she said, “but I can’t put the volunteers through this. I cannot jeopardize their health.”

Paulsen and LeBlanc were both concerned, they said in separate conversations, with the possibility of cross-contamination.

On Tuesday, most FFP volunteers were outdoors, based under a pop-up canopy that provided shelter from the occasional rain and the focal location for clients and donors as they arrived.

Wagons were next to the tent, filled with supplies. As clients arrived, the wagons were rolled toward each vehicle, unloaded, and then returned to the door of the pantry’s building to be refilled, and then rolled back outdoors.

Volunteers encouraged clients to remain in their vehicles as the groceries were loaded.

Very few people were inside the pantry itself. Paulsen and another volunteer, Barbara Lesko, received items at the door and put them onto the appropriate shelves. Perishables were put into a refrigerator or freezer.

A few others also entered the building, but most stayed outside.

At the end of the two-hour period, 14 families had picked up supplies, Paulsen said.

Immediately after the pantry closed, its board began discussion of ways to be even safer. Both women feared too many people were involved in the effort, even with a scaled-back crew.

“Tuesday was good, but we had too many variables,” LeBlanc said. “We decided working one on one would be better.”

That was when the idea of working through appointments was crafted.

“A lot of people are not working right now, and we’re trying to avoid the mass group of people being here,” LeBlanc said. Without the constraints of opening just twice a week, the women hope the pantry will continue to serve those in need.

“We have the food,” LeBlanc said. “People who need the food, I want to get it to them.”

Paulsen agreed, vowing, “If somebody needs food, we will get them food. I won’t let anyone go hungry.”

Residents should monitor The Newtown Bee, in print and online, and FAITH Food Pantry’s Facebook page for specific requests. For additional information, visit newtownfoodpantry.org or call 203-426-5604 or 203-837-0816.

FAITH Food Pantry volunteer Amy Schumann carried two boxes of donations for the pantry Tuesday morning. After one day of offering curbside service, the pantry’s board has decided to try what they feel is an even safer alternative during the COVID-19 pandemic. Items are to be picked up or dropped off by appointment only. —Bee Photos, Hicks
FAITH Food Pantry President Lee Paulsen, left, and volunteer Barbara Lesko load cold cuts into a wagon about to be sent outside Tuesday morning, when other volunteers were waiting for clients to pick up their supplies.
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