BETHEL, Conn. -- A new mobile food pantry in Bethel will make it easier for lower-income, working families in Fairfield County to have access to free fresh food — thanks to the United Way of Western Connecticut and the Connecticut Food Bank.
Beginning Wednesday, Nov. 30, and continuing on the fourth Wednesday of every month, there will be a mobile food pantry set up at the Fairfield County Agricultural Extension Site, 67 Stony Hill Road, Bethel, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Volunteers will help people choose the food that they want.
Unlike the nonperishable food found at typical food pantries, the mobile food pantry will provide fresh food such as vegetables, fruit, dairy products and other items.
The food will set up on a table, and anyone is welcome to attend. No identification is necessary. The mobile pantry can serve up to 300 people each time it arrives.
“The emphasis is on fresh food because it’s a healthier alternative to what you might get at a food pantry or what you may get at the grocery store,” said Carolyn LaFleur, community impact coordinator for the United Way of Western Connecticut in Danbury.
According to LaFleur, the mobile food pantry is designed for what is referred to as the “ALICE” population, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.
“The ALICE population is made up of people who are working full time but still have trouble paying their bills,” LaFleur said. “We have found that for a lot of people in this area, the cost of housing and childcare can be so high that even if you’re working hard, after paying rent, childcare and utilities, there is not enough money left to pay for food.
"These people are living paycheck to paycheck."
This food pantry has been specifically set up so that people who are working during the day can have access to it, she said.
All the food at the pantry has either been donated by the Connecticut Food Bank, grocery stores or private donors.
“We want to empathize that we set up this food pantry in a central location and not in downtown Danbury," she said. "We are providing food for people throughout the Greater Danbury area."
Aside from the Bethel mobile food pantry, there is also a mobile food pantry at the Shiloh Seventh Day Adventist Church, 977 Hope St., Stamford, at 9:30 a.m. on the second Wednesday of each month.
The first mobile food pantry in Stamford took place on Nov. 9, when a total of 85 people accessed food from it, LaFleur said.
For more information on the mobile food pantry, to donate food or to volunteer with this effort, call LaFleur at 203-297-6307.
If schools in Danbury are closed due to inclement weather, the mobile food pantry will be cancelled.
Those who come to the mobile food pantry are asked to bring large, reusable bags.