Interfaith Council Visits FAITH Food Pantry
Many of the town’s faith leaders accepted an invitation by FAITH Food Pantry (FFP) and the local Knights of Columbus to tour the nonecumenical food pantry now located at 46 Church Hill Road. A field trip of sorts was undertaken by council members on May 8, in place of the council’s regular monthly meeting.
FFP is located on the campus of St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church but, like Vatican City in the center of Rome, it remains its own entity.
The pantry’s acronym stands for Food Assistance Immediate Temporary Help. All Newtown residents are welcome to visit, regardless of faith (or lack of).
The visit by Newtown Interfaith Council was organized after Mr Manfredonia and FFP President Lee Paulsen spoke earlier this year during a council meeting. Both realized that some outreach to the town’s houses of worship could lead to more residents learning about the pantry and its offerings.
Mr Manfredonia, a member of Knights of Columbus Virgilius Council 185, based at St Rose Church, represented the local Knights during the visit. The Knights of Columbus had provided lunch, catered by Butcher’s Best Market, for its guests.
He welcomed the group and thanked them for their service in town. He also urged them to remind their congregations that there is help for them any time they need it.
Attending the tour, Q&A, and lunch were Reverend Leo McIlrath, interfaith chaplain, The Lutheran Home in Southbury; The Reverend Dr Jenny Montgomery, priest-in-charge, Trinity Episcopal Church; Pastor Rob Morris, Christ the King Lutheran Church; Reverend Kristen Provost Switzer, minister of youth and mission, Newtown Congregational Church; Monsignor Robert Weiss, senior pastor, St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church; and John Woodall, with B’hai Faith of Newtown.
FFP volunteers Joan Brand, Bill Colbert, Barbara Krell, and Jill Leblanc also participated in the event.
According to Lee Paulsen, between January and April of this year, 32 new families — representing 65 Newtown residents — visited FAITH Food Pantry for the first time.
“Adding information about us, including our phone numbers, into your bulletins, would be great,” she mentioned.
Mrs Paulsen said the pantry had just completed a season that is traditionally difficult to keep shelves stocked.
“Thanksgiving and Christmas, people are very cognizant of people in need,” she said. “It’s months like February and March and April that we really have more needs.”
Jill Leblanc said the next few will also be also difficult for the pantry and those who rely on it.
“Summer, when everyone is so busy, we’re often in need of donations,” she said.
The pantry continues to explore ways to make it easy for people to donate. Ms Leblanc mentioned, for instance, that a PayPal option is now available through FFP’s website (newtownfoodpantry.org).
Mrs Paulsen again urged the faith leaders to let their followers know about the pantry.
“If you know of anyone who needs help, in any way, just have them call me,” she said. “We don’t want anyone to go hungry.”
Ms Leblanc said that while there are just two times each week with set hours for visits, the pantry will work with residents to get food, cleaning items, and other supplies to them.
“We are very flexible,” she said. “Please let people know that we’re warm and friendly, and we’re here. No one should be afraid to come in.”
In his prayer that afternoon, Monsignor Weiss acknowledged how welcoming the volunteers are for all of their clients.
“All of these folks are representatives of all faiths in town,” he said in part. “You make people feel so okay when they come in here. This building is so well-designed. It’s open and friendly, and it takes away the stigma of going into a basement for a bag of food.
“It’s so bright and light and full of love in here.”
FAITH Food Pantry is at 46 Church Hill Road, south of the St Rose of Lima sanctuary (and to the immediate south of the Knights of Columbus building). Its regular hours are Tuesdays between 9:30 and 11:30 am and Thursdays from 6 to 7:30 pm. Call 203-837-0816 or visit newtownfoodpantry.org for additional information about donating, visiting, volunteering, and fundraising.
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