Volunteers revitalize Guilford Food Bank for those in the community whose needs persist
United Way of Greater New Haven volunteers recently gathered at Guilford food bank to beautify the building’s outdoor space.
The event was a part of United Way’s Week of Action, where the company organizes volunteers to help different service providers, particularly those addressing food insecurity.
United Way of Greater New Haven’s Volunteer Manager, Dennis Velasquez, and 15 other volunteers spent about two hours weeding, planting, and trimming bushes and hedges to strengthen the appearance of the food bank.
Velasquez said assisting service providers is important to United Way because they understand that some organizations may not have the capacity to complete projects they want to accomplish.
“We [want to] make sure that we are being equitable and lending a hand as much as we possibly can to make sure that our partners know [we] can do whatever projects they have in mind, whether [it’s] around serving clients directly or doing things like today,” Velasquez said.
The food bank's coordinators and co-directors, Kristin Jones and Donna Falcone, oversaw the clean-up and stressed that giving people a place that feels more like a home is essential.
“It's hard enough for people to walk through the doors to ask for free handouts. And to have it beautified provides them that little sense of dignity and self-respect,” Jones said.
Jones and Falcone said the food bank mostly serves income-eligible people.
While Jones is appreciative of the clean-up project, she explained that the pandemic has stressed donations which the food bank solely depends on.
“When COVID hit, we had an influx of monetary donations which helped compensate for the physical items. But as COVID is gradually leaving, the money has dwindled,” Jones said.
Falcone further explained that inflated prices in grocery stores have impacted donations and what they’re able to provide.
“The need is growing more and more,” she said.
Jones and Falcone said they believe some people think Guilford residents are not in need of food assistance because of the town’s general wealth. However, they have seen an increase in families signing up for food assistance, and they want people to know that support is needed.
“There are people struggling everywhere. And if anybody is able to help just a little bit … every bit helps,” Jones said.