Gatherings this year may be smaller and travel limited, but there’s one Thanksgiving tradition that communities are keeping alive.
Amy Hollis, executive director of Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries, said that she’s been getting requests almost daily from people who want to host Thanksgiving food drives for the nonprofit.
“Every day, it seems like there’s another phone call, another email, another effort,” she said.
Hollis said that since the start of the pandemic, Shoreline has been consistently serving 50 percent more people than last year. By the end of October, the nonprofit’s locations in Clinton, Westbrook, Chester, Deep River, Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, Centerbrook and Essex had given away over 1.3 million pounds of food.
Currently, seven of the organization’s nine meal sites, as well as all five of its pantries, are open for service in-person. Hollis said that with the precautions they have taken — limiting the number of volunteers and heightened cleaning protocols at the sites — they haven’t had any cases of COVID.
In a report published in May, Feeding America estimated that food insecurity in 2020 could reach between 16 and 17 percent of the population in the state of Connecticut. For children the number was projected to reach between 24 and 26 percent.
Hollis said they give away about 40 pounds of food to approximately 850 families each week. While she doesn’t know that Thanksgiving will create any kind of increase in demand, she knows that the need certainly isn’t disappearing anytime soon.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Wednesday before Christmas, the organization will be putting together to-go holiday meals.
The following are a list of upcoming drives benefiting the food bank:
- OLD LYME: The therapeutic riding nonprofit High Hopes is accepting non-perishable food donations Monday-Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm at 36 Town Woods Road, Old Lyme, CT. The drive will last from now until November 29. The non-profit will also be hosting a virtual holiday market from November 15 through the 29.
- CLINTON: The Clinton Rotary Fund is hosting a drive on November 20, 21, and 22 at the Clinton Stop and Shop.
- WESTBROOK: The Westbrook Democrats are hosting a food drive on November 22nd from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Westbrook Green.
- CLINTON: The First Church of Christ and other churches in Clinton are asking for donations and food items for the pantry in lieu of hosting their Community Thanksgiving Service.
Checks can be made out to SSKP and sent to P.O. Box 804, Essex, CT. They are also collecting checks for the nonprofit Families Helping Families, which can be sent to P.O. Box 166, Clinton, CT 06413.
Food donations can be dropped off at the First Church of Christ, 55 Church Road, Clinton, CT.
- WESTBROOK: The Westbrook-based Gowrie Group Insurance Agency is selling tickets to a virtual concert to raise money for the Shoreline Soup Kitchens. The concert is on March 24 at 7 p.m. The group will match all donations.