No One Goes Hungry: Southington Nonprofit Prepares for Unknown
March 2021 - When so much of the world stopped in March 2020, nonprofit organizations did everything to continue to fulfill their mission and improve the lives of local residents while ensuring they kept their clients safe.
Bread for Life in Southington is one such organization. Their mission is simple: to ensure no one goes hungry. They provide meals served daily, delivered to the senior community and homebound citizens and to children in the summer. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Bread for Life changed their operations of how they serve and deliver food but did not stop any programs.
“All of our meals are now prepared in individual to-go containers and served from our front porch or delivered to the front door of clients,” stated Donna Ayer, Executive Director of Bread for Life. “We are proud to report that we never closed during this pandemic. But we do have a plan in place in the event of an unforeseen emergency closing.”
When Bread for Life was awarded a $25,000 unrestricted operating support grant from Main Street Community Foundation through the Bradley Henry Barnes & Leila Upson Barnes Memorial Trust in December, they decided to use a portion of it to create 100 emergency meal boxes. An emergency meal box contains 10 mylar pouches, which contains a dehydrated meal of two portions; a bottle of juice or shelf stable milk; and a box of granola bars.
“So many people we serve rely on us for their meals,” said Donna. “If Bread for life had to go under quarantine, our big concern was what would our clients do. We knew we needed a plan. This will allow Southington’s most vulnerable citizens to still get food.”
This is a true town-wide effort. The Southington High School baseball team assembled the boxes and the Southington Community YMCA has stepped up to help distribute the emergency boxes to both the in-house and homebound clients in the event of a closure of Bread for Life.
“This is such an impressive initiative that we will be sharing this as a best practice for other meal programs in our network,” said Vinh Vuong, Partner Programs Coordinator at Foodshare.
While Bread for Life has been able to continue operations and prepare for the unknown, there has been an increase in demand and concern. There has been a 232 percent increase in the need for grocery bag deliveries, as many residents found themselves without groceries or means to secure them. The financial crisis due to job loss during the pandemic has meant there has been many new clients, including more families. In total, Bread for Life has seen a 42 percent increase in in-house clients and a 26 percent in our homebound clients from the year prior. In addition, companionship has traditionally been a part of Bread for Life’s work, but due to safety concerns that has not been able to happen, further isolating some of the most vulnerable residents.
“So many people don’t have any other options or other means to get food or make meals,” stated Donna. “We will do everything to ensure that no one in our community goes hungry.”