WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — A big community event is definitely serving up food for thought in Waterbury. Each year, the United Way of Greater Waterbury tries to galvanize different groups of people to help put a dent in a serious summer problem — low levels of supplies at area food pantries while demand is up because of children no longer in school.
Many children rely on public schools for free meals like breakfast and lunch. But, when school is out, food pantries feel the pinch. So do parents who may already find it hard to make ends meet.
“Between paying your bills and gas and food, and rent and all that stuff there’s not enough money to go around after that,” said Tabitha Peck.
Tabitha is one of many parents who relies on food pantries like the one at the Greater Waterbury Interfaith Ministries (“GWIM”) on East Main Street.
“If this wasn’t here, I’d starve,” she said.
Tabitha says summertime sometimes turns up the heat on her stress levels when it comes to worrying about having food for her two children.
“I don’t want them to know that hardship,” she said. “I want them to not have to worry about that.”
The United Way of Greater Waterbury just kicked off its annual food drive to help numerous food pantries across The Brass City. It’s called the “Stock the Pantry” Food Drive. This is the 12th year. Last year’s effort resulted in 11,000 pounds of food collected — donated by residents and groups from all across the area.
This act of community kindness makes a significant difference in many families lives — like Tabitha’s.
“We have a large population that we call poor working families and are managing household budgets on very limited income,” said JoAnn Reyniolds-Balanda, vice president of community impact for the United Way of Greater Waterbury. “So, we know it’s very difficult for them to meet the needs of their families.”
This food drive allows several pantries to continue to be there to serve the city’s hungry. It also excites many businesses whose workers rally to come up with donations. Waterbury’s police officers and firefighters are engaging in a friendly competition to see which of Waterbury’s finest can donate more food. People can drop off food donations at any Waterbury police or fire station — or food pantry — until June 20th. The donations will be weighed and a champion will be crowned then all of the food will be distributed.
In the end, the hope is the real winners will be the families that rely on this food to know that there are people out there who care.
“To all of the people who donate I say thank you, thank you very much,” Tabitha said.