These words were recently written by a local resident, according to Patty Dowling, executive director of The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries. “In January one of our guests wrote this very heartfelt message. We asked her if we could share it with the community, so they could understand how much the pantry means to her and her family, and she said yes.”
For 27 years the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP) has been providing groceries through 5 weekly pantry distributions, and offering daily hot meals at eight local meal sites, offering help to over 8,000 residents last year. The towns served by SSKP are Old Saybrook, Essex, Old Lyme, East Lyme, Lyme, Chester, Clinton, Madison, Killingworth, Westbrook, and Deep River. One out of ten coming to an SSKP pantry are seniors, many on a fixed income; others are disabled or suffering from physical or mental illness. Many are employed, but with wages too low to be self-sufficient. Over half of the pantry registrants last year were families of four or more, and 35% were children or teens.
According to Dowling, the number of those coming for help has risen steadily over the years. “Last year, for the first time, we distributed food for over 1 million meals,” she explained. “Recent data indicates a complicated economic and demographic future for many living on the shoreline.”
“But despite these increases,” she explained, “our shoreline community responds to the need. When we reach out for support to provide food and fellowship, so many have answered abundantly. To respond best to the current needs, and to prepare for what may be greater need, we are launching a new annual Spring Appeal. We’re also contacting private foundations and corporate supporters.” The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries receives no direct state or federal funding, and operates with the support of 900 volunteers in partnership with local faith communities.
“We will continue to provide all who register at an SSKP pantry free groceries every week for everyone in their household - and a daily hot meal to those who attend our meal sites,” said Dowling. “Thank you for caring, and know your support gives your neighbors hope. They believe that someone has their back on their most difficult days, and they can see the presence of God in their lives.”
The SSKP Spring Appeal will be held through May 31st. Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 804, Essex, CT 06426 or online at www.shorelinesoupkitchens.org.
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