New London — It’s early on a Friday morning and the main gathering room at the New London Senior Center is abuzz with activity. A group of volunteers is furiously sorting through food that covers tables stretching the length of the room.
The senior center has been shut down throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the gathering space once used for things like bingo and yoga is transformed to accommodate the once-weekly headquarters of a mutual aid program some are calling “Food for the People Delivery Pantry Program.”
It doesn’t really have a formal name and it doesn’t advertise. But the collaborative effort to supply food to some of the city’s most vulnerable residents, much of it delivered to front doors, has spread by word-of-mouth and continues to grow.
Food insecurity has risen significantly since the coronavirus pandemic struck a year ago and this is one of numerous local efforts to reach people in need.
People already feeling economic strains were pushed over the edge as unemployment rates soared, school-age children were sent home and many people remained homebound. Church, civic organizations, schools, human services departments and individuals have joined the effort to get food out. The program is modeled in ways after a New London school district effort in the early days of the pandemic to deliver meals to school families.
“We are trying to reach those facing barriers to the emergency food system,” said Alicia McAvay, the director of Fresh New…