Every Sunday for the past eight years, Hartford Food Not Bombs has received donations of produce from the Whole Foods in West Hartford Center. This is food that is suitable for human consumption, but often not aesthetically appealing enough to get top dollar from consumers. Instead of dumping it, the company has been generously gifting it to this grassroots organization, which has been serving it as part of the free, vegetarian meals distributed near the carousel in Bushnell Park on Sunday afternoons.
This month, that arrangement came to a halt.
On March 2, when volunteers arrived for the weekly pickup, they were told that Whole Foods would be changing how it donates food that would otherwise land in the dumpster. The organization tried to set up a meeting with the manager, but to date, the only discussion between these parties has been through email.
The grocery store is now working with Food Donation Connection to coordinate how and where it gives. Before, groups like Food Not Bombs were able to work directly with the corporation known for its high quality food. That relationship appears to have dissolved overnight, with the community organization having to work with a third party that says Food Not Bombs in its current state does not qualify as a charitable organization and is now unable to receive the food donations as it had been for almost a decade. Continue reading 'Hartford Food Distribution Group Loses Fresh Produce Source'»
In a doughnut and bacon slump? Drag yourself out of that.
A free healthy eating and cooking class begins Wednesday.
If you are in need of a holiday dinner to prepare at home – frozen turkey, potatoes, stuffing, gravy, corn, green beans, cranberry sauce, and coffee — stop by the Pope Park Rec Center on December 16th from 5-7pm.
This is first come, first serve with only one meal being given per family. There are enough meals for 600 families. Continue reading 'Holiday Dinner Ingredients to Be Distributed in Pope Park'»
Hartford Prints! is a punster’s paradise
The local holiday shopping guide has become a Real Hartford tradition, and it is that time. This might seem early, but that’s only because Chanukah is also early this year. And my timing is still more seasonal than those who put up Christmas displays the day after Halloween, fast forwarding right past Day of the Dead, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving.
Attaching giving to only one day (“Giving Tuesday” is 12/3/13) seems absurd, especially when that day is after the one known for mass consumerism. For that reason, this is listed first. Hartford offers many opportunities for charitable giving. Here are a few ideas:
- Big Brothers Big Sisters: Brian Kelly of Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters says, “we’re always in need of volunteers – especially males – to mentor disadvantaged children.” That could be too much of a time commitment for some folks, so another way to contribute is to donate gift certificates to retail stores and family-friendly entertainment venues, such as the Connecticut Science Center. These gift certificates would go to children in the program. Another way to give is to make a financial contribution, which Kelly says goes toward “moving children off our waiting list and into life-changing match relationships with adult mentors.”
- Bike Walk Connecticut: This is the organization behind the Discover Hartford Tour. They do bicycle education for children and adults, along with planning Bike To Work days. Donations and volunteers are welcome.
- Charter Oak Cultural Center: This space hosts musical performances, art, dance, plays, vigils, youth programs, films, and more. They accept donations and volunteers.
- Connecticut Farmland Trust: Though their office is in Hartford they work all around the state to ensure that we continue to have farmland. Because we really don’t need strip malls every half mile. They accept donations and volunteers.
- Hartford Public Library: Besides just paying off your library fines, you can donate any amount online. If you are not familiar with this library and its branches, there is more than books. The library provides job resources, opportunities for civic involvement, and more. Continue reading '2013 Holiday Giving Guide'»
After an embarrassing show back in September, the West End Civic Association has now issued a statement via its mailing list, offering full support of the food pantry operating out of Grace Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Continue reading 'WECA Makes Good on Food Pantry'»
The City of Hartford deemed that the food pantry run by Grace Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Prospect Avenue was not in violation of zoning laws, but the decision made by the West End Civic Association Board earlier this month to pursue closure of the food pantry in this particular location has left many in the West End feeling like their voices were not heard by the neighborhood organization.
After a meeting of the West End’s Southwest Sector, an open letter was created on these issues:
September 27, 2013
An Open Letter to Members of the WECA Board
WECA’s Southwest Sector met Tuesday evening, September 24, and discussed at length the recent actions taken by WECA regarding the food pantry run by the church adjacent to Elizabeth Park on Prospect Avenue. We were deeply disturbed and disappointed by the WECA Board’s actions, and we wish to bring the following points to the Board’s attention in the hope that the Board will take them into consideration in the future.
1. We regret and disagree with the motion passed by the Board at its September meeting regarding WECA’s position on the food pantry. We feel that the decision behind the motion was not only wrong with regard to the facts—there were, evidently, no zoning or licensing problems with the food pantry—but more importantly as a matter of principle. An organization that looks to its bylaws and finds “zoning enforcement” before “social responsibility” and “helping those in need” is not an organization of which we can be proud members. Continue reading 'West End Residents Rebuke Neighborhood Organization'»
The City of Hartford does not intend to close the doors on the food pantry operated out of the Grace Seventh-Day Adventist Church in the West End. Jeff Cohen reports that the City has found no zoning violation. Zoning was among the complaints issued by WECA against the food pantry. The church has operated this food pantry for years.
The Grace Seventh-Day Adventist Church was given no notice from the West End Civic Association or the City of Hartford about this morning’s meeting regarding the food pantry that is run out of the site on Prospect Avenue across from Elizabeth Park and on the next block from the Governor’s mansion, but due to outreach from concerned residents, church representatives and supporters learned about the session.
Not long before the meeting began, WECA issued an official position on this “issue”:
Though some WECA members abstained from voting on the matter, this continued to be put forward as the neighborhood organization’s stance. Those familiar with this neighborhood know that there is a social divide for some, with Farmington Avenue as the separation between more affluent homes (north) and rental units and less expensive properties (south). Some residents have suggested that this push to enforce zoning is a way to relocate the food pantry to what some consider a less desirable part of the neighborhood. As previously noted here and at the meeting, the park generates far more traffic and parking concerns than the food pantry, which operates only one day a week and during off-peak traffic hours.
Following the meeting, WECA presented another message:
If you would like more details on this morning’s discussion, read the article on Greater Hartford Real Estate Blog.
While some residents are trying to free their neighborhoods of the drug trade so their children can play outside safely, the West End is apparently mobilizing to crack down on a real scourge: a food pantry being operated by the Grace Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Prospect Avenue.
According to the church website, “part of being a good neighbor is providing services to our surrounding community.”
But these services have created enough concern for some that the West End Civic Association (WECA) has sent an email to its members soliciting comments about the pantry. Continue reading 'Stop Everything. People Being Fed in West End'»