Despite the many challenges of 2020 we are pleased to say that we did not miss serving a single meal to those who came to our door. That is a big accomplishment for a small local organization. Our facility closed access to indoor dining in March but we rapidly adapted to a new and safe mode of presenting meals to our recipients. All of our meals are now served in take-out containers.
Each day, Peta, Mark, and our dedicated volunteer groups provided hot nutritious meals including protein, fruit, vegetables, dessert and drinks for whomever came to our door. We are grateful to our staff members who guided our loyal volunteers through these turbulent times and never once thought that we would not prevail in our mission. We would like to thank all of the volunteers and local businesses that provided us with food, drink, bread and desserts. We are extremely grateful to the community who supported us monetarily and with donations of food, paper goods, wish list items, and warm hats, scarves, and mittens for our guests.
Sadly, this year we saw many new faces: families with young children, seniors new to need, the working poor, and the newly unemployed. All were served confidentially and were pleased to receive a nutritious meal. As a result, we saw a significant increase of over 5000 meals served as compared to 2019.
Of note, our board has begun working to develop a new strategic plan for the Meal Center. Potential goals of this initiative include extending our outreach to more people in need. We are exploring new ways to manage our Meal Center while continuing to provide for our guests with dignity and respect. We also seek to expand our donor base and to broaden the scope of our grant sourcing to ensure our ability to maintain this critical community service.
As we enter the new year of 2021 with hope and optimism, we wish to share news of important changes in the Meal Center staff. We congratulate Peta Madry on her well-deserved retirement at the end of January. She has selflessly dedicated 11 years to the service of the Meal Center as our beloved Kitchen Manager. Peta has earned the respect of each and every volunteer, employee and Board Member. We wish her all the best in her retirement. Mark McQuillar has been hired as our new full time Kitchen Manager, stepping into Peta’s role. Mark is a natural fit for this role as he has been working with Peta at the Meal Center for the past 10 years. He is more than familiar with daily duties. We are excited that this will allow for a seamless transition. Russell Robinson will assume Mark’s security duties. Russell has worked with us over the past few years and is a familiar presence at the Meal Center. Rounding out our paid staff are part-time custodian Oscar Perez and bookkeeper Terrie DeSalvo. Both Oscar and Terry have been with us for 3 years. We are grateful to our staff for their dedication, especially during this trying year of the pandemic.
Along with the rest of the community, we are hoping for an end to the pandemic and a return to communal dining with improved service. We hope for your continued support to sustain us in pursuing our goal of ending food insecurity in New London and the surrounding community. We couldn’t do this without you!
New London Community Meal Center