Editors’ Note: This is a longer version of the article that is carried in this month’s (June 2022) print edition.

Cornwall is an expensive place to live for people on modest incomes.  One needs a motor vehicle, along with car insurance, maintenance of the vehicle, not to speak of the jaw-dropping price of gas.  According to a Cornwall Housing Forum presentation, 35% of Cornwall’s population spends more than 30% of their monthly income on rent/mortgage payments, utilities, and maintenance plus there are other expenses and needs that can’t be avoided, such as food.

The Cornwall Pantry helps residents combat food insecurity.  It currently assists 24 households consisting of 40 adults and 30 children. The Pantry provides both nonperishables and fresh food.  Once a person or family is signed up, they have access to an online ordering form, which is filled out weekly like placing a grocery order, except the choices are more restricted. Each person/family ends up with a customized grocery list.  Categories are things such as toothpaste, toilet paper, dish soap, and laundry soap.  Items that are not covered by SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, are much needed, such as cleaning supplies for homes and women’s personal products.  Other nonperishable categories are items like canned beans, pasta, and marinara sauce.

The process commences early in the week when the ordering forms are due in.  Then the Pantry places orders at grocery stores. It receives fresh food donations from donors, particularly from a group called Food Rescue.  There are Cornwallians, often of modest means themselves, who also donate food every week.

Nonperishable orders are filled by 3-4 volunteers on Sunday afternoon in individual boxes for distribution on Monday. The fresh food is picked up Monday and distributed into the client boxes.  This takes 3-5 volunteers.  On Monday afternoons 4 volunteers will deliver boxes to those who cannot pick up their own.  Another volunteer helps carry boxes out to the cars of clients as they arrive. Overseeing all of this is Heather Dineen, the Town’s Social Services Director.

Last Fall the Pantry became aware that some children were coming to the Cornwall school without lunch or without a sufficient lunch.  The Pantry came to the rescue and now provides weekly, healthy additions such as fresh fruits and vegetables, yoghurt, applesauce, peanut butter and jelly for the children when the Pantry has them.

All this costs money, approximately $8,000 per month.  The Town through the Food and Fuel Bank contributes $20,000, but financial and in-kind donations are still needed.

For monetary donations, send a check drawn to Town of Cornwall Food and Fuel Fund and mail to: Town of Cornwall, Attn: Finance Officer, PO Box 97, Cornwall CT 06753.  Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law.

Donations in kind can be dropped at the back door of the UCC Church, 8 Bolton Hill Road, Cornwall or you can order something for delivery at www.boxed.com or order through the Amazon Cornwall Wishlist, which will ship items directly to the Pantry for distribution.  Especially needed items are household paper goods, snacks for kids, canned food, pasta, pasta sauce and cereals. To volunteer, email stephana@stephanabottom.com.  If you need the Pantry’s assistance? Call or email Heather Dinneen at 860-671-9315 cornwallsocialservices@gmail.com.

—Jim Fishman

📸: Bob Meyers