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History of the New London Area Food Pantry - Part 1 (Early Founding)

Members of local religious groups, social service agencies and some businesses began to meet in 1987 to identify the important needs of people in this community. As a result of a United Way needs assessment survey, the group decided that too many individuals and families lacked enough nourishing food to sustain them properly.

Reverend Wallace Anderson led this group in forming the New London Area Food Coalition, using his parish, the Second Congregational Church, as headquarters. He served as its first president for two years. In 1988, the group began meeting regularly on the second Wednesday of each month and also opened the New London Area Food Pantry. At the same time, it began incorporation proceedings as a tax-free organization and held its first annual meeting in November of that year.

A goal of the Coalition was to bring together interested individuals who could identify those in need and give them a forum for exchanging ideas, keeping abreast of local and state policies, and avoiding overlapping of services. The Coalition also decided to operate one central Food Pantry to relieve individual churches of the burden of giving food to the rising number of those in need. This venture was encouraged and augmented by the founding of the United Way Gemma Food Bank in Uncasville, which provided much of the groceries to be distributed.

The Food Pantry is totally volunteer-run. Until recently, it had been located in the basement of the OIC building at 106 Truman St for most of its existence. St. James Episcopal Church housed the Pantry for 16 months while the OIC was being renovated in 1990-91.

Folks may recognize this picture of the window into the basement of the OIC building. It was through this window that food originally received from Gemma Moran Labor Food Center and local farms and later from Foodshare CT would pass to be later distributed to guests. Also, food selected by guests in the basement would be passed up for retrieval outside.

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