September is #HungerActionMonth and Community Plates is spreading awareness by highlighting some of our local hunger advocates. Did you know that our volunteers deliver food to more than 25 pantries and kitchens across Fairfield County each week? Wilson Pantry in Stamford is particularly special to us, as you can see from this post written by food runner Sam Mauro after a recent visit.
I walked into the basement pantry on Wednesday afternoon and found Miss Joyce sitting in her chair, sorting through some apples and bags of greens. “You guys done good by us this week,” she said, referring to the bountiful produce that some of our food runners dropped by the pantry. She was in a joyful mood despite the oppressive heat.
Have you met Miss Joyce yet? She’s the southern transplant that founded the food pantry at Wilson Church in Stamford, Connecticut. What started out as her retirement project soon turned into a two-day a week commitment for the past 11 years. Her goal for the pantry is simple; to make sure that every one of the 300 families she serves every week has a solid diet. She adds, “You help us in a great way to meet that goal.”
Wilson Pantry isn’t a fancy operation. Miss Joyce operates out of a church basement with minimal refrigeration or storage space and she hands out food only once per week. She and her volunteers start every Wednesday putting together grocery bags for each family that will come through their doors on Thursday afternoon. It isn’t rare that Community Plates is often the only source of fresh fruits and vegetables for the pantry. The other food banks that donate typically only have bread products, and in the words of Miss Joyce, “You can’t grow strong kids on bread alone.”
Miss Joyce has a soft spot for the children that come through the pantry. She explains that many of the families have upwards of 5 kids and she gets to know every one of them. These families rely on Wilson and the efforts of groups like Community Plates to feed all of those mouths. Often the parents work but just don’t make enough money to pay all of the bills. Miss Joyce always tries to stash away some goodies for her pint-sized patrons, but, she mentions with a heavy heart, at the end of the day, there isn’t enough food to go around for everyone.
Usually when you drop at Wilson Pantry, volunteers are ready to help unload and bring the food right in from your car. But if you have a few extra minutes, go in and introduce yourself to Miss Joyce. She loves thanking volunteers in person and showing them her labor of love. And if you want to go the extra mile, ask Miss Joyce if you can volunteer on a Thursday to help hand out the food and see the impact of your efforts up close.