DANBURY Thanksgiving meals for 2,000
DANBURY — For Marilyn Davis, the Daily Bread Food Pantry is a blessing.
She goes once a month to the pantry at St. James Episcopal Church and was among the 470 clients who picked up food Monday for Thanksgiving.
“It means a lot,” she said as she passed through the line. “The people are nice. They treat you with love. It helps a lot on the budget for food.”
On Thanksgiving, an estimated 2,000 people are expected to eat the food given out at the pantry’s annual holiday distribution.
Davis will have Thanksgiving dinner at her mother’s house with about seven others this year. Without the pantry, she said she does not know what her family would do.
“We would be lost,” she said.
Daily Bread Food Pantry serves food year round on Monday and Friday mornings out of St. James Episcopal Church. Households are permitted to come once a month, and 60 to 70 families get food each time.
But the pre-Thanksgiving distribution is the biggest day of the year. Clients sign up the month before to pick up food and often come early to get one of the first spots in line.
“Most of them wouldn’t have a Thanksgiving without this,” said Rose Ann Benvenga, a board member. “The beauty is, they are so appreciative.”
A half hour after the pantry opened, clients were lined up in the church’s back parking lot and down Terrace Place. Many had carts to push their food, but the estimated 60 volunteers from local churches, schools, banks and other business offered to help clients carry their bags to their car or nearby homes.
The pantry saw a rise this year in the number of households getting food.
Debbie Landzberg, another board member, attributes the increase to the high cost of living in Danbury and the growing challenge for residents to receive federal aid.
“It’s just increasingly hard to cover costs,” she said.
She said some of their clients are single parents, some struggle with medical costs, while others work two jobs, but still can’t make ends meet. Between paying for rent, utilities and other emergencies, they might only have a couple dollars left for food, Landzberg said.
She said she has seen clients run up the hill as the pantry is closing to get food. When asked if they have food at home, the answer is no, Landzberg said.
“They really rely on the food pantry,” she said.
Among the clients is Mercedes Cabrera, of Danbury, who not only took home food Monday, but volunteered to pass out potatoes to others. She has been volunteering with the pantry since last year.
“I like to help,” she said.
Cabrera plans to celebrate Thanksgiving at her house with her husband, three kids and five grandchildren.
Each client received a turkey, as well as stuffing, gravy, potatoes, squash, onions, apples, pie and more.
About half of the items came from the Connecticut Food Bank, but the rest was given by local grocery stores and businesses. A drive pushed on social media garnered stuffing from around the country.
But Landzberg said it is challenging to get food and monetary donations after the holidays and urged the community to donate on the organization’s website.
“If you come back in May, or even a couple months from now, we’re struggling to fill our fridges and shelves with food,” she said.