MERIDEN — With food pantry traffic up 60 to 80 percent in recent weeks, the Meriden Lions Club has stepped in to help local food agencies restock their shelves.
The Lions Club recently donated $5,000 each to five local food pantries to help them purchase more food to help the hundreds of city residents who have lost jobs and are enduring food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Checks were recently handed out to New Opportunities for Meriden, Grace Place, Ted’s Kitchen at St. Andrews Church, the Salvation Army and Iglesia Cristiana Palabra De Vida to help them acquire food from the Connecticut Food Bank and other sources.
“This pandemic has affected our ability to serve the community in our traditional Lion way, but it has not broken the spirit of Lions in our community,” stated Lions Club President Ken Morgan on the club’s website.”We just shifted our method to serve the Meriden Community. It is uncertain when we will be able to return to our traditional service model.”
The club was going to donate the $25,000 directly to the Connecticut Food Bank with the provision that it go to Meriden food distribution centers, but was told a direct donation would be more effective, said club member Brian Mahon.
Past President Joe Berg put up $10,000 and the club donated $15,000.
“We thought this was the proper time to do this, with so many people out of work,” Mahon said. “Joe felt this was the kind of project the Lions Club should be involved in. We wanted it to stay in Meriden.”
The Lions Club would typically be engaged in its usual annual fundraising activities this time of the year. Events cancelled include the Daffodil Festival and the Palm Sunday Breakfast.
“Because of the stay-at-home prevention practice, we were unable to participate in or bring these great events to you,” Morgan said. “We are excited to give this back to the community in a somewhat non-traditional way.”
Morgan and Berg donned face masks and visited the five food pantries to present the checks.
“This is a huge shot in the arm,” said Scott Griffith, founder of Grace Place, run by New Life Church. “This $5,000 goes a long way to buy food from the Connecticut Food Bank. I really appreciate the Lions Club for the thoughtfulness to the community. They got together and thought of the food pantries, and the timing could not be better.”