Virtual food drive benefits Meriden-Wallingford pantries

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The United Way of Meriden and Wallingford’s Week of Action will have a different look this year. Instead of one week, there will be a 10-day Virtual Food Drive.

The event, which began June 23 and will end July 7, will benefit three food pantries — Master’s Manna in Wallingford, New Opportunities of Greater Meriden and the Salvation Army in Meriden.

“In past years, we have done more hands-on events,” United Way Executive Director Maria Campos Harlow said. “Needless to say, it’s not possible this year. But, fortunately, we have two new energetic and very technology-savvy employees, Jennifer Sanguano and Julia Pelletier, that were able to put this together in record time.”

To donate, visit Click on ‘Our Events’ and then Click on ‘23 Jun.’ From there, follow the prompts to pick one of the three beneficiaries to donate food.

“This idea developed from our most recent board meeting,” United Way Associate Director Diana Reilly said. “The pandemic has forced us to improvise, and this concept of a virtual food drive met with instant approval.”

The backbone of the drive is the That online company was started nine years ago in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti. The New Jersey-based organization has since grown to be the foundation of over 600 food drives by hundreds of nonprofit organizations. Food is purchased from national distributors at extremely competitive prices.

From a warehouse in Piscataway New Jersey, goods are packed and shipped directly to the food pantry.

“I can’t believe how easy it is for a donor,” Campos Harlow said. “The website is easy to use, the prices are as good as you can get at a supermarket, and they do all the physical work like packaging and shipping. We are hoping that the ease with which people can donate will drive a great response. The need for food for families is still enormous, and it will be for months more as we continue to be under pandemic restrictions. Families are having a scary, terrible time trying to make ends meet.”


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