Daily Bread Food Pantry’s dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony drew a crowd of about 75 supporters outside of Saint James Episcopal Church in Danbury on Nov. 14.

The crowd included donors, volunteers, supporters, city and Department of Housing and Urban Development officials and Ridgefield Thrift Shop President Sandra Capriotti and Finance Committee Head Debbie Murphy.

The Thrift Shop donated $10,000 for the renovation project.

Speakers included Mayor Boughton, Alanna Kabel, director of community planning and development at HUD’s Hartford Field Office, and architect Leigh Overland.

Debbie Landzberg, board president of the Danbury nonprofit organization that provides food free-of charge to low-to moderate-income families in need, also spoke during the ceremony.

“We are thrilled to announce that we are now positioned to better serve thousands of struggling families in the greater Danbury area,” Landzberg said.

“As we all know, there is a lot of need all around us,” she added. “Connecticut is one of the richest states in America, yet according to United Way’s financial hardship report from last fall, about forty percent of all households in the state fall below the poverty line or hover just above it. These families struggle to afford the most basic necessities, like housing, groceries, childcare, transportation.”

According to Landzberg, the number in Connecticut’s cities are even higher.

“Food insecurity has become a pervasive problem,” she said. “We are fortunate here in Danbury that Mayor Boughton and the city have taken a strong stance against hunger. The Danbury Food Collaborative, spearheaded by United Way of Western Connecticut, has also been a key player in this fight.”

Daily Bread Food Pantry, a 35-year old nondenominational, nonprofit agency, is one of 11 agencies in the collaborative who work together to help families in need.

“We provide food free-of-charge to low- to moderate-income families who have difficulty making ends meet and we welcome struggling households whatever their circumstances,” said Landzberg. “Our clients seek help because of illness, disability, job loss, low wages, and personal or family crises.”

Background

The project was funded by a Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the city of Danbury.

“The agency is grateful to Mayor Boughton and the city of Danbury for their continued support and assistance through the grant and construction process,” Landzberg said.

The renovation will allow DBFP to better serve thousands of residents of greater Danbury, reworking a facility designed in 1984 for a much simpler and far smaller operation, a press release said. The project will bring the agency into the present and prepare it for the future by putting in place an open floor plan for less congested food distributions, wheelchair accessibility, new adjustable, commercial-grade shelving, a more efficient heating and cooling system, additional refrigeration units, improved lighting and flooring, much-needed storage, work and closet space, running water and more.

“The pantry’s client population has grown many times over since our founding,” Landzberg explained. “When Daily Bread first opened, we served a handful of families. We now welcome 500-700 different households every month and about 4,000 different households each year. Every family is invited to visit the pantry once each month and brings home approximately 50 to 80 pounds of groceries each time they shop. In recent months, our client population has been growing rapidly. About ten new households visit every time our doors open for our twice-weekly food distributions.

“Congestion in the pantry had become a major issue over the years since only a small portion of our space was dedicated to client shopping and the rest was used to stock goods,” she added. “Clients and the volunteers who helped them shop simply did not have the room to move about easily. Volunteers had to squeeze through the crowd carrying boxes and bins to restock shelves and coolers. Clients did not have the luxury of time to choose food items as others stood close behind them waiting.”

Daily Bread Food Pantry is located behind St. James Church at 25 West Street.

For donation information, interested persons may visit the pantry’s website at dailybreadfoodpantry.com.