A Food Pantry Service Delivered Right to Your Door
Community Table/Mesa Comunitaria was initiated in the summer of 2020. With families out of work because of the global pandemic and many barriers in place to receive assistance, Mesa Comunitaria/Community table became an emergency food response in Windham.
It exists today as a pantry service that delivers weekly boxes of food to over 20 families in need, with an emphasis on reaching Latinx immigrant women and teens in Willimantic. These boxes are filled with food gleaned from local farmers, gardeners and pantries and supplemented with additional groceries purchased through community fundraising efforts. The boxes are packed and delivered by recipients and community members who are compensated for their time through a stipend program.
The Community Table/Mesa Comunitaria project both increases economic security, as it puts food on the table for immigrant households; as well as builds leadership and power. It brings new, intergenerational voices to the table to organize themselves in order to generate and distribute local food resources. It aims to be a member-led, self-sustaining communal pantry and food processing collective for families in Willimantic.
This project shifts power, so that “recipients,” or “constituents,” are leaders and decision-makers, and “providers” serve as allies to gather resources and remove barriers. La Mesa Comunitaria/ Community table builds self-resiliency among Latinx immigrant women and their families, as it connects them directly with – and gives them control over – food resources, reducing their dependence on income to purchase them.
Stipend Program: Most activities at Community Table are constituent led and organized. Members receive a stipend in return for their time and shop, pack, and deliver for the program. This gives families direct control over what food is sourced for the program, while compensating them for work that they would otherwise not have the time or privilege to carry out on a volunteer basis.
Food Preference Surveys: Recipients are encouraged to fill out regular food preference surveys. The surveys are essential to understanding what foods are culturally relevant for families. The goal has always been that participants can access food that they want to receive, instead of just meeting basic needs. This information also drives the decision making in the spring when our partnering farmers are making crop plans for the season. Food Delivery: The pantry program is entirely run on contact free delivery of weekly boxes. This provides safety in times of the pandemic, while also bringing food to families that don’t have access to reliable transportation to pick up food.