Tucked away at the corner of North Grand Street and Mountain Road sits the Crossroads Food Pantry. Established in 2012 and housed at the West Suffield Congregational Church, the pantry was set out to address hunger in the community. Crossroads Food Pantry is a 100% volunteer organization, run by Liz McGann, chair, and Mary Calkins, treasurer, and their staff of volunteers. It has evolved and now distributes over 50 lbs. of food to more than 100 families each month, even in the time of COVID-19. The majority of this food is delivered from Foodshare, but local churches, farmers and good Samaritans have all come to bat for the pantry over the years.
Mary was quick to praise the commitment of their team of volunteers. During regular times they have 20 people manning the pantry on food day. There are shelves to be stocked, bags to be packed, parking to be managed and numerous other jobs to keep the pantry running smoothly. However, with COVID-19, things look a little different, but the commitment to feeding the hungry has not faltered. Many of the regular volunteers are on stay-at-home orders, so the pantry is operating with a skeleton crew awaiting a return to normalcy. The volunteers have missed their interaction with the clientele and can’t wait to be back to their regular Thursday routines. Boy Scout Troop 66 has been a steady presence pitching in in any way they can month after month.
Not surprisingly, the pantry has revealed the best in people, and Mary shared stories of farmers arriving after a day in the fields with beautiful produce delivered, including large quantities of corn on the cob and other vegetables. Meanwhile, a poultry farmer across town was madly urging his hens to lay a few more eggs just to provide fresh local eggs to some folks who may be down on their luck. Sometimes checks find their way to the mailbox, and this money goes to purchase certain food staples or carts and reusable bags to help the clientele put the food into their cars. Those who are regulars at the food pantry are very appreciative of the pantry and the food it provides. Fifty lbs. of staples goes a long way, and the orders normally include canned goods as well as frozen meat, bread and cereal. As you may imagine, there is no shortage of thank-yous from the folks as they receive their often overflowing bags of food.
The kindness of strangers prevails, as is evident from the visit of a man stopping by last month to ask how he could help. Out of the goodness of his heart, he delivered over 100 cake mixes so that each family could wake up Christmas morning to the smell of warm cake wafting across their kitchen. If that doesn’t elevate one’s spirits, not much else will. It is gestures like these that make the pantry one special place. If you are interested in donating to the Crossroads Food Pantry, their address is PO Box 26, West Suffield, CT 06093 or online through the church website at west suffielducc.org.