Milford nonprofits help families in need during pandemic

MILFORD — One by one, vehicles pulled up to the Cornerstone Christian Center on Wheelers Farms Road. The drivers would pop open their trunks and a 20-pound box filled with nutritious food would be placed into them, and the vehicle would be on its way. No questions asked.

By the end of the day, all the food boxes, 576 in all, had been given away.

“People were just ecstatic,” said the Rev. Todd Foster of the Cornerstone Christian Center, who helped coordinate the distribution.

The food box distribution is part of the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program, which was created to benefit food insecure families. It was developed as a result of the effects of COVID-19. The Storehouse Project, a nonprofit food service organization — along with Milford’s Cornerstone Christian Center and Kingdom Life Christian Church — are volunteering their time to distribute boxes to those in need in the Milford area.

The program is part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Under the act, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) purchases the food and contacts local farmers to assemble the food boxes and deliver them to distribution points across the United States. Local volunteers then get the food to people that need it.

Through the program, more than 100 million food boxes have been distributed to families and individuals in need, according to the USDA. Each food box contains five pounds of meat, five pounds of assorted dairy products, 12 pounds of produce and a gallon of milk.

“With farmers to families, there are distribution points all over the state,” Foster said. People come all over the area to pick up food, he said. No appointment is necessary. Families don’t have to apply or qualify to receive the food and they don’t have to give their names.

“They can just drive up during the designated hours,” Foster said.

In addition to individual recipients, food boxes were delivered to a low income housing complex in West Haven, a church in Bridgeport, and a senior program in New Haven, according to Foster.

About 30 volunteers were involved in the distribution. The program is expected to continue into November.

“A tremendous need”

The Food Box Program is serving a population that may have food and job insecurity, according to Foster. Many of those people have to make choices between paying their electricity bill and buying food.

“Particularly during this COVID time, people have been adversely affected in tremendous ways,” he said. “This is another opportunity to give.”

The need is everywhere, he said. At the Storehouse Project, which serves hot meals to the homeless, Foster said the number of people at the weekly meal service had more than doubled, to well over 200.

“We are just finding that people are in tremendous need and anything that we can do to help alleviate their pain and their burden — that’s what we live for,” he said..

The next distribution will be from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17, at Kingdom Life Christian Church, 1455 Naugatuck Ave.