With November well underway, the local homeless shelter/food pantry has begun to restock its shelves to help feed those in need for the holiday season.
Despite providing approximately 150 households a month with 10 days’ worth of food, which includes three meals a day, the Spooner House staff is currently preparing to increase the number it services, as it does every year during the holidays.
“We service around 500 to 700 households during the holidays, in addition to the regular food pantry,” said the executive director of the Spooner House, Susan J. Agamy. “It’s a wonderful thing, and we couldn’t do any of this without the community’s support.”
Agamy said the staff is always accepting general donations of food, hygiene products, or volunteer time, but it’s currently focusing on collecting for the annual Thanksgiving and end-of-the-year baskets.
The Spooner House has a wish list of items it is collecting specifically for the holidays: cranberry sauce, gravy, pie crust and filling, instant mashed potatoes, canned meats, canned vegetables, asparagus, yams, peas, carrots, and frozen turkeys.
“We have to take frozen turkeys and not fresh because of health considerations. We have no way of knowing if the fresh turkeys were left sitting out, which could potentially get someone sick. The turkeys we accept must be frozen solid,” said Agamy, who’s been working at the Spooner House since 2005.
Agamy said the food pantry is also always in need of food donations that are high in protein: peanut butter (and jelly), tuna, canned meat (Spam), soups, and stews.
“It’s always something that we could use more of,” said Agamy.
Community and local businesses’ support is the reason that the food pantry’s food collection has been successful in previous years, according to Agamy.
“It’s so much more than just the food people are kind enough to provide,” said Agamy. “It’s the partnership with us that helps people to understand that there’s people right in our community who don’t get enough to eat on a regular basis, that struggle to pay their bills and can’t always make ends meet.”
Agamy spoke about the importance of people realizing that circumstances can change, and anyone can end up in a situation where they need assistance.
“[We need] to raise that awareness that these unfortunate circumstances could fall on any one of us. It doesn’t take much to push people from their normal lives to requiring assistance,” said Agamy. “Your life can change in an instant, so the more people who know what we have to offer as a resource, the better it is for the community.”
Agamy explained how the holidays can be a joy for some but a burden for other families.
“Holidays can be tough for families that struggle to make ends meet, because they’re now forced to supply food for kids who were previously being fed breakfast and lunch by the school system, free or reduced,” said Agamy. “There’s a year-round need, so if when you’re grocery shopping you can afford to pick up one or two extra things to donate, then you’re making a difference in someone else’s life.”
The next food drive will be on Thursday, Nov. 9, from 7 to 10 a.m. at 1000 Bridgeport Avenue. Smile Dental Center and the Shelton GROW Group will be holding a food drive to collect non-perishable items as well as frozen turkeys.
Spooner House is always looking for volunteers. If interested, call 203-225-0453 for more information. The volunteer application is on the Spooner House website, actspooner.org/, and all who are interested in volunteering must undergo a background check.