Area food distributions during pandemic

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Sandy Flagg, chair of the Board of Directors for Waste Not Want Not Community Kitchen (left); Dave Roberts, president of the Barkhamsted Lion Club; and Audrey Lampert, member of the Northwestern Connecticut Cyber Lions Club, help distribute 38-pound boxes of food during the 12th and final USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Distribution Event. Submitted photo

Granby residents Sandy Flagg, Audrey Lampert and Dave Roberts are passionate community members who want to ensure that no one goes hungry, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In March 2020, Town of Barkhamsted First Selectman Don Stein reached out to Dave Roberts as president of the Barkhamsted Lions Club to see if he would like to serve as the Town of Barkhamsted volunteer coordinator during the pandemic to combat food insecurity. Roberts approached area leaders including Sandy Flagg from Waste Not Want Not Community Kitchen and Audrey Lampert from the Northwestern Connecticut Cyber Lions Club to see if those organizations would partner with the Barkhamsted Lions Club to distribute 38-pound food boxes. Over the past 14 months, the trio collaborated with over 24 volunteers including members of Riverton Grange #169 and the Barkhamsted Senior Center, to distribute over 45,000 pounds of food/milk to families in Granby, Barkhamsted, New Hartford, Hartland and Winsted during 12 separate events. 

“Quite frankly, we were amazed with how much need existed in our community,” said Dave Roberts who also serves as a Granby Conservation Commissioner and Justice of the Peace. “Sandy and Audrey were such great team players, always providing volunteers to meet our needs, and were so much fun to work with on this impactful service project.” 

Prior to each event, volunteers would join with Roberts in driving to either Waterbury, Terryville or Colchester to load up their personal vehicles with 75 to 200 food boxes each time and bring them back to distribution sites in either Granby or Barkhamsted. Because the box contents were perishable, the trio and their volunteer network had to work quickly to ensure that nothing was wasted. 

“I am passionate about serving the community,” said Lampert. “Dave Roberts shares many of my passions and was such a motivational leader to partner with on this yearlong initiative. Coordinating the logistics for this program was quite the challenge.” 

The federal government during both the Trump and Biden Administrations funded the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Distribution Program to help combat food insecurity throughout the United States during the pandemic. Each state coordinated with elected officials and local nonprofit leaders, including Lions Clubs International, to handle the distribution logistics to keep the cost of the program manageable. 

The program officially ended in May 2021, but many organizations, including Waste Not Want Not at South Church, 242 Salmon Brook Street, Granby, and many area Lions Clubs as well as the Riverton Grange, continue to serve those in need by partnering with local food pantries.