SOUTHWICK – Our Community Food Pantry, which serves Southwick, Granville and Tolland, is accepting donations for Thanksgiving through Nov. 16.
Pantry Director Sally Munson said she expects up to 150 meals will be needed and she was grateful that the Southwick Episcopal Church was donating enough turkeys for everyone.
“I am picking up the turkeys, which will then be blessed, and every family will get a frozen turkey for Thanksgiving,” Munson said.
Distribution is scheduled for 2:30-4:30 p.m. Nov. 23.
Munson said the reason for the early donation deadline is COVID-19.
“We need time,” she said. “We can only have four people in the pantry at a time and we need the donations to sit for three days, then we sort everything and they need to sit before they’re distributed.”
Munson said the pantry looks much different with COVID precautions in place. The entire pantry is sanitized throughout the day and plexiglass dividers keep everyone apart. Munson said her three-day rule of not touching non-perishables may seem “a bit much,” but it has helped keep the pantry up and running.
“We did not shut down at all since the pandemic started,” Munson said proudly. “We want to keep everyone safe, and people are struggling; we want to give them food.”
Another way to keep pantry participants and volunteers safe is with a new beeper system. Munson said when families arrive for their weekly distribution, they are given a beeper to take to their vehicles. When it’s their turn to pick up their groceries, the beeper alerts them to come inside.
Munson said this year, every family in need of a Thanksgiving meal has to pre-register and will receive a ticket that must be turned in the day of distribution.
“We know people without tickets will come, but we will ask them to return the next day,” Munson said.
Everyone with a ticket Nov. 23 will receive their meals that day while anyone without a ticket can return the next day in case there are extra meals to distribute. Munson stressed that preregistration and receiving – and turning in – the ticket will be an important part of the process this year.
“Getting those tickets helps use make sure everyone who needs a meal gets it,” Munson said.
Another change this year is with the traditional pies baked at Southwick Regional School and given to each family at the pantry. Munson said they could not safely distribute homemade pies and instead, each meal will come with a dessert mix for families to prepare at home, such as cake mix or pie filling and crusts. Munson said donations of everything but turkeys are encouraged and appreciated.
“We are giving everyone a frozen turkey, stuffing, cranberry, a dessert mix, mushroom soup and green beans for a casserole, fresh carrots and potatoes and any extras we have,” said Munson.
To donate non-perishable Thanksgiving trimmings, or to donate any non-perishable food or to make a monetary donation, contact the pantry at 413-569-9876.
The pantry is open Monday from 3-5 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. – noon and Thursday from 5-6 p.m.