October 2, 2020 – Shelton, CT –Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic last spring, food security issues have been on the rise and local pantries have been struggling to keep up with the increased need they have seen from the community.
Typically, in the fall, pantries are already low on inventory because of the lapse in summer food drives, and the lull of giving that occurs before the holidays. For years, Valley United Way ran the annual Harvest House food drive to bolster the low inventory of food pantries during the fall months and helped to tide them over so families in Lower Naugatuck Valley are cared for. Due to increased demand brought on by the economic troubles of the Coronavirus, the scarcity in pantries has been felt more acutely this fall. “St Vincent de Paul has sustained a nearly 40% increase in the number of families/households needing help with food,” says Remy Kocurek, Director of St. Vincent De Paul of the Valley Thrift Shoppe and Food Bank, “and this trend shows no sign of receding.”
As large gatherings are not encouraged, to help the community stave off Covid-19, Harvest House (a food drive that local businesses, schools, and individuals participate in during the month of September), was not able to be held in its normal location- under the pavilion in Veteran’s Park, Shelton. In order to continue the support of the five pantries, Valley United Way has decided to continue their food drive by making it virtual. “The experience will be different,” as Interim President and COO David Kennedy remarks: “Having a virtual-build won’t be nearly as touching nor as personally powerful as other years – but the food raised will perhaps mean more this year than any other year.”
By using an online Virtual Food Drive platform, funded by Prudential, Valley United Way is able to raise funds for the pantries by accepting gifts as small as $1 to as large as $1000. The drive allows the consumer to select sample items and see how their gift can be used at a pantry, but also is reminiscent of a shopping experience an individual would have if they were making an order through a grocery store. Through this system, Valley United Way hopes to raise $10,000 to offset the needs in the local pantries.
A soft open was done during the month of September of the Virtual Harvest House, but as October continues, Valley United Way will continue promoting this effort with local businesses and through social media. The virtual event officially ends October 31st, and all funds raised during Harvest House 2020 will go directly to the 5 area food pantries: Ansonia Salvation Army, Kathleen Samela Food Pantry at Christ Church (Ansonia), Seymour-Oxford Food Bank, Spooner House (Shelton), and St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Shoppe and Food Bank (Derby).
To find out more about virtual Harvest House 2020, or to donate, visit: https://valleyunitedway.org/harvest-house/