Serve in the World
For more than 25 years, the AHCC Crisis Food Support Program (CFSP) has provided emergency food to Hartford families in need. The CFSP works in cooperation with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and with support from Covenant to Care for Children.
Efforts by the CFSP demonstrate AHCC’s commitment to be “a church in the heart of the city with a heart for the city.”
How does it work? A CFSP volunteer is on duty two or three times a month and receives a call directly from a DCF social worker when a needy family has been identified. CFSP also takes occasional referrals from Friends of the Family and the Village for Families and Children. Calls typically are for single moms and their children or grandparents raising grandchildren. The volunteer gets the name and contact information for the family, the number of children and their ages and confirms a delivery time.
Using a food list designed by a dietician to provide a family of four with enough food for one week, the volunteer first visits the AHCC food pantry, then purchases any food not currently in the pantry and fresh food items on the list at nearby supermarkets. Volunteers are speedily reimbursed by Covenant to Care for items purchased.
The food is usually delivered to the family in need but may be delivered to the social worker making the request. Direct delivery to families can be very rewarding. Two volunteers recall making a delivery to a Bosnian family that had just emigrated to the US: the family insisted on serving them crackers and soda in order to thank them, and told some of their story through their teenage daughter. Other volunteers tell of making a delivery to a family that had lost their apartment in a fire.
The CFSP is one of many programs supported by AHCC’s Outreach Committee. Covenant to Care handles finances for the program. Food supplies for the pantry are purchased from Foodshare at 15 cents per pound or received free from Foodshare through several government programs. A small group of volunteers pick up the food at the Foodshare warehouse.
Demand for emergency food continues steadily throughout the year. In 2013 CFSP made deliveries to 50 families serving about 200 people. The program needs more volunteers in order to reduce the number of days on call from the current two to three days a month to once or twice a month.
New volunteers receive training from the program chairs or a current volunteer and can accompany others until they feel comfortable being on their own.