Home Us church At a Ridgefield church, volunteers provide food for those in need

At a Ridgefield church, volunteers provide food for those in need


“I wake up on the third Friday of the month excited for the day because I know I’m going to church to volunteer with the mobile pantry,” Jim explained to me. Retirement gave Jim the flexibility to do more service in the community. An active member of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Jim’s heart for serving the community stems from his long-standing faith in God who loves unconditionally. Love is action. Jim’s response to God’s love is to do whatever he can to make others know God’s love for them as well.

The CT Mobile Food Pantry comes to our church parking lot each month thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor in the city. St. Andrew’s provides space to receive and distribute food. Each month, a few church members offer hospitality to volunteers and consumers. The Ridgefield Social Services Department organizes the entire effort with volunteers from the Church / Synagogue, Service Club, Boy Scouts or through their own relationship with Social Services. We are grateful for this collaboration to help meet the needs of our neighbors.

Our church volunteers love to welcome visitors to the pantry every month. Often times, we see the same volunteers and consumers each month, which allows friendships to develop. Some people come with their children who are still too young to go to school. We love to see the little ones. Really, our volunteers are delighted to meet everyone who comes to the pantry to distribute and collect food.

Barely able to pronounce the words quickly enough, Jim expressed his own joy in making new friends and meeting old friends while volunteering with the mobile pantry. These days are more than an exchange of goods, a count of volunteer hours or a charitable donation note. These are days of community building. An otherwise empty parking lot comes alive with a welcome, friendly conversation, the sharing of recipes in response to the foods available that day and times when a stranger is stared in the eye with words of welcome and honor. . “It’s like we’re part of a family working together,” Jim said of his experience.

Starting in 2012 to serve Ridgefield and its neighbors, the mobile pantry began in a parking lot on Halpin Lane near many affordable housing units. Quickly outgrowing space, it moved to St. Andrew’s in 2014, serving over 200 households. During the pandemic, the number fell to around 120 households collecting 35 to 40 pounds of food. These are the only statistics kept by social services. No personal information is ever requested from consumers. Anyone who shows up will receive a household value of food.

A scout leader who is also active in the local Sustainable CT group leads volunteers to handle all recycling and waste during the food distribution day. Recycling cardboard, wooden pallets, cling film and other packaging material leaves us with a very small amount of compostable food and literally a small handful of trash.

Whether you are drawn to traffic, organizing stocks, shopping to fill bags with food, the pleasure of greeting people or the environmental impact; there is a volunteer position to fill for almost everyone. The mission is clear: To love our neighbor by making good quality food accessible.

Additionally, the Department of Social Services has partnered with local farms and grocers to bring fresh produce to Ridgefield families every two weeks during the summer months. Cornerstone Garden and Veronica’s Garden make the majority of the donation. Social Services purchases a small amount of produce from Nature’s Temptations or Stop & Shop in order to add variety and supplement the offering if the harvest is scarce in a given week. These distributions also take place in St. Andrew’s with the help of regular city volunteers, including high school students.

We know the church is the people, not the building. And so, it gives us immeasurable pleasure to know that the place where we come together to worship God can also be a place where people gather, serve and receive food through good, healthy food and friendship. Our partnerships between faith communities, clubs, civic services and businesses strengthen our ability to serve and care well for our neighbor.

Rev. Beth Anderson, pastor can be contacted at [email protected]; 203-438-0606; St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church 6 Ivy Hill Road Ridgefield, CT 06877.