Recently, we had a group of 12 young people (ages 10-15 years old) and three adults from the United Methodist Church of Rockville here at Hands On Hartford. This group dedicated three full days to service, putting their own hands on our city. While they were here they did many projects, including cleaning up the neighborhood, running a food drive, serving at community meals, and preparing rain/snack kits to be shared at our community meals. In addition, they participated in two programs whose purpose was to help them learn more about homelessness in Hartford. It was amazing to watch the faces of the young people as they listened to a speaker from our Faces of Homelessness program. Their rapt attention, and their thoughtful questions demonstrated their interest and concern for helping others.
Watching this group learn about the needs of others, and then seeing them take action to make a difference, was a powerful experience for me. How fortunate we are to have dedicated volunteers of all ages here at Hands On Hartford. With groups like this one, there is hope for a future filled with compassion and caring!
Question: How many pounds of food do you think it takes to feed a room full of 100 people for one lunch time?
Answer: 25 lbs of pasta, 15 lbs of sauce and 100 pieces of bread
On an average week day we see between 100- 150 clients for lunch. That is anywhere between 500 to 750 people a week.
People from all walks of life need extra assistance today. Not only needing food stamps to help keep food in their pantries, but also an extra free meal or two to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need and for peace of mind. They know they can come to Community Meals for lunch knowing that they may not have another meal that day.
The MANNA Community Meals program here at HOH is struggling to help keep that peace of mind. The shelves are looking bare, we haven’t been able to provide variety for our clients nor have we been able to give the portion size that we would like. Monday’s, guests used to count on CM to have chicken as the meal – we haven’t been able to serve chicken on a Monday in weeks. Our food supply, along with other soup kitchens in the area is dwindling. Our needs for fresh meats and produce cannot be met simply because the demand is so high. Soup kitchens are running out of staples like pasta, pasta sauce and rice.
We are not only looking to the community for help, we are looking to create awareness. To better address this issue and better serve the people of Hartford who need this service.
Wish list: (quantities need to accommodate 150 people)
- Fresh Meat (chicken, beef)
- Fresh Produce
- Pasta and pasta sauce
- Desert plates
On Easter Sunday, 29 volunteers helped prepare and serve a hot and delicious Easter lunch to over 150 individuals at our soup kitchen. The morning started early for the volunteers who assisted with creating and setting up festive decorations and prepping for the meal.
Thanks to the generosity of various individuals and all the volunteers, the meal consisted of ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with a cherry glaze, mixed vegetables, and salad. Guests also got to enjoy hot coffee, donuts and bingo!
We are so grateful for all the support which made this holiday meal so successful. We are already looking forward to and preparing for the next holiday meal, Memorial Day. If you are interested in supporting this meal or volunteering, contact Cody Stewart at email@example.com.
In less than one week, Hands On Hartford’s food pantry clients will have access to organically grown fresh produce thanks to the generosity of Murtha Cullina LLP. Andrew May, a long time volunteer of the agency’s Assistance & Advocacy program, approached The Hartford Food System and inquired about the availability of low-income farm shares through their Grow Hartford Program for our clients.
Grow Hartford is a Community Supported Agriculture program that increases awareness of food security, nutrition, sustainable agriculture and environmental issues. Initially, Andrew inquired about the possibility of obtaining a family share, however, when he learned from the Executive Director, that organizational shares were available he immediately brought it to the attention of Hands On Hartford’s management.
In order for the agency to obtain the organizational share it was necessary to seek a sponsor. Murtha Cullina graciously agreed to sponsor the share. The firm has been actively involved with our organization for over two years. Murtha Cullina’s employees, who serve meals at Community Meals monthly, have demonstrated a strong commitment to our MANNA program. As a consequence of Murtha Cullina’s sponsorship, our food pantry will be able to offer 75-100 pounds of locally grown/sustainable produce weekly to our clients for a duration of 3 months.
Last Friday, the Hartford Courant published an article featuring Hands On Hartford’s Community Meals soup kitchen program. The article did a fantastic job highlighting our “Take a Break From Work” program where business professionals can come volunteer during their lunch hours. Also mentioned was how convenient and well-organized this program is,
‘I have volunteered for other community projects but will have to say this one is very organized and very well run,’ says MANNA volunteer Cindy Nadolny…Organization, as well as the convenient time slot, has made it easier for Nadolny to spend her time giving back. Once there, she enjoys meeting and speaking with the clients.
Explained in the article was how to volunteer, about our program sites, and what volunteers help out with when they volunteer at Community Meals, “Once at the soup kitchen, volunteers can plate food (before noon), serve meals and interact with clients (from noon to 12:30 p.m.) or help with clean-up (from 12:30 p.m. on)”.
We are grateful for this publicity from the Hartford Courant and for the wonderful article and pictures! Thank you to Crystal Maldonado and Bettina Hansen for your work on the article and the photographs.
You can find the article online here. A video about volunteering at Community Meals can also be found on the Courant’s website.
A new Hands On Hartford website is on its way! Within the next couple of days, Hands On Hartford will transition to a brand new website.
We will be migrating to an innovative platform that will allow for better volunteer engagement and management. Many of the limitations of our exisitng website will be addressed in the new one. Some of the new features include the ability to:
- Track volunteer hours
- Rate your service project experience
- Search for opportunities at partner agencies
- Create and manage volunteer teams
Please note that our website will be down during the migration period. Please feel free to call us if you can’t access the website. We don’t want to lose touch with you!