CHESHIRE – The Cheshire Community Food Pantry is almost quadrupling its size, after the town’s need outgrew its current facility.
Currently, the food pantry operates out of a small converted garage on Railroad Road with no heat or air conditioning. They serve up to 350 people a week.
“We try to maintain an inventory and in order to do that you have to accept and try to generate a lot of donations over the course of weeks, months, years, and we've simply run out of space,” said Executive Director Patty Hartmann.
In their new 6,000 square foot, $1.1 million facility on Sandbank Road, they will be able to store more perishable and non-perishable food, help more clients and welcome more volunteers.
“We have a lot of people, teens included, who want to volunteer, but we physically do not have enough space for them to be able to,” said Hartmann.
The new space will also have a separate entry way for clients to ensure more privacy. Volunteers and board members acknowledge a lot of people they serve have a hard time admitting they need help.
Hartmann said, “Cheshire is a small community and we wanted to make sure that we were sensitive to their needs .We didn't want people to not come because they felt like they were in a very public place.”
Though Cheshire is a seemingly affluent community, the food pantry has seen the demand for their services grow in recent years.
“They're in and out. Some are down on their luck. We have the elderly. We have the disabled. Some are temporary and they just come in for a short time, some are there for the long haul,” said food pantry volunteer Judy Collins.
Construction began in April, but volunteers got their first glimpse inside on Wednesday during a sneak preview of the facility.
Collins said, “As excited as we are, so are the clients.”
The non-profit launched a $600,000 fundraising campaign earlier this year and they are nearing their goal.
Their plan is to open in November in time to give out Thanksgiving meals at their new facility.