Community Corner:  Guilford Food Bank

Director of Guilford Social Services / Co-Director Guilford Food Bank

As Director of Guilford Social Services (GSS) since 1991, Tammy DeFrancesco wears many hats, including answering the call to help feed the hungry.  For more than 24 years, she has witnessed firsthand the dramatic rise of those in need in our own backyard.

“Canned goods use to line my office shelves at the town hall,” remembers Tammy.  “People kept knocking on my door, asking for food.  We needed more food and space, so we moved everything to the basement.”

“In 1994, I went to First Selectman Ed Lynch about finding a storage facility off-site.  We knew we had to do something bigger, but also knew we couldn’t take this on alone.  So, we went to the Board of Guilford Interfaith Ministries (GIM),” Tammy notes.

As a result, the Guilford Food Bank (GFB) was formed in 1995 as a coordinating partnership between the Town of Guilford and Guilford Interfaith Ministries (GIM), opening its doors on Boston Street in a small area of the town’s old Public Works garage.  However, it didn’t take long before an even bigger space was needed.

In 2004, the town renovated one of the two old buildings on the Old Woodruff Farm property, making the GFB’s new home at 45 Stone House Lane, where it is still located today.

Available to residents in need, who show proof of Guilford residency, the GFB  offers non-perishable and perishable food, cleaning supplies and toiletries.  Servicing 250 to 300 households annually, the GFB helps 50-75 families each month (not all families are the same each month).  And, while the GFB welcomes those in need to walk-in, a voucher from GSS is required for a second trip.

“We are doing our due diligence,” says Tammy.  “There are checkpoints along the way.  We want to be sure that the people who really need the help are getting it and that people’s hard-earned food and dollar donations are going to the right place.”

Anyone that needs to use the GFB on an ongoing basis is expected to pursue all other potential resources available, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Energy Assistance.  “Through GSS, we encourage responsibility and assist people in filling out applications for additional resources,”  she says.

“The GFB is an invaluable resource for the Guilford community, however, it wouldn’t be possible without the many volunteers, members of the community and of course, my co-director Ann Marie Gunn,” Tammy notes.

Food donations are accepted at Palumbos’ Automotive & Big Y Collection Box during their regular business hours, as well as the GFB on Fridays from 9am until noon.  Food distribution is Fridays, 3pm to 4pm, and Saturdays, 9am to 11am.

For more information, call 203-453- 8009(GSS) or 203-453-8359(GIM) and visit the GFB’s Facebook page, where weekly needs are posted.