The Cornwall Food and Fuel Fund, in all its twelve years, has never been as essential as now. Managed by Social Service Director Heather Dinneen, with oversight from Selectman Gordon Ridgway, Richard Bramley, and Treasurer Barbara Herbst, the Fund has seen more than double the need over last year, accompanied by a remarkable outpouring of donations from over a quarter of our residents. (Gordon thanks everyone.) A donor writes, “I like to think this is what we do in Cornwall. [The Fund] is the most tangible way to make sure no-one is left behind.” Another donor sent in his stimulus check “because I receive disability and I don’t need the funds.” And beneficiaries give as well; two donated their stimulus checks.

One family wrote in gratitude: “We have been struggling lately between disabilities and Covid, and this has made me not worry that I can feed my kids. Without this amazing program, many families around here would not be able to take care of their own.”

Ever since March, providing food has been the major expense, followed closely by housing needs — rent and mortgage. All other available resources (town and regional funds, public benefits) are accessed first; the Fund is a last resort.

Heather sees about thirty families a week, many of whom have never needed help before. Volunteers, who also make deliveries, stock the Food Pantry at UCC with local produce and non-perishable donations. Recently received: a windfall of frozen meals from Trinity Church.

It says something about the way the Fund operates that people feel comfortable enough to ask — it’s hard to ask! — knowing that confidentiality and dignity are always honored. Heather adds, “As the pandemic drags on, we have Cornwall residents who are unable to return to work and are receiving less than $100 a week from Unemployment. The Fund will be even more essential for these residents going forward.”

Ella Clark