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'La Bodeguita' Food Pantry Gets $250,000 To Continue Feeding Families

Ingmar Riveros (left) and Peruvian refugee Xiomy De La Cruz (right) serve 150 families from their food pantry in a store basement in Hartford on Nov. 19. Many of the families are undocumented and severely impacted by the pandemic.
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public/NENC

Ingmar Riveros and Xiomy De La Cruz have distributed food, diapers and essential baby products for over a year from what they call La Bodeguita de la Gente. More recently, just as they started coordinating vaccine clinics for the people they fed, their operation was shut down, forcing them to relocate.

De La Cruz says this was especially challenging without the necessary funding to cover moving costs. So when she found out that Congress included La Bodeguita de la Gente in this year’s appropriations bill, she was ecstatic.

“We are truly happy because this is going to bring many beautiful changes to our pantry,” De La Cruz said in Spanish.

Congressman John Larson announced that this project was included in this year’s appropriations bill with a funding request of $250,000 for La Bodeguita De La Gente and Connecticut Food Bank/Foodshare.

Larson says when he heard about the project from a staff member, he made his way to the site to see it for himself.

“I was floored by what they were doing and how modest they were and how it was that a young couple like this came up with an idea on their own,” Larson said.

Early in the pandemic, De La Cruz began La Bodeguita de la Gente in her living room. It currently serves up to 400 families and has become a trusted resource for undocumented and immigrant community members in Hartford. De La Cruz says the funds will be used to find a permanent location.

“We hope to help even more families with these funds, particularly those facing domestic violence,” De La Cruz said.

Brenda León is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Brenda covers the Latino/a, Latinx community with an emphasis on wealth-based disparities in health, education and criminal justice.

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