Members of the are working hard to bring fresh produce to those in need through the Mobile Foodshare program.
The program, which is new to Tolland, requires no documentation of need. Volunteers simply fill a grocery bag of healthy food for each and every person who stops by.
UCC Minister of Mission and Congressional Life, Rev. Judy Medeiros, said that the food truck is the latest in the church's long-term effort to fight hunger at a local level.
"We do have a tendency to think of Tolland as an affluent town," she said. "But when we made up the fliers and we were going around, one of our church members went and had a conversation with the state police office, and they were so happy about it. They said that it was probably one of the best things that Tolland could ever do, because they go into peoples' homes all the time. They see the poverty and hunger that people don't normally see."
The church volunteers hand out food every other Thursday, starting at 9 a.m. Once the Foodshare truck arrives with the produce, volunteers quickly set up tables and help each arrival fill up their bag. The set up is broken down by 9:30 a.m. so the truck can move on to the next community.
Medeiros explained that the program aims to be simple in many ways. Other than not requiring documentation of need, each person only gets one bag, whether they are feeding themselves or a family of six, ensuring fairness and operational efficiency. However, families in need are also more than welcome to bring more than one adult to the truck to fill their own bags.
And beyond addressing the pressing need for food, Medeiros said that the volunteers hope to break down the taboo that can sometimes affect those who use charitable operations.
"It's so heartbreaking that we have to hide when we're in trouble," she said. "We all face those times. When it happens to you, let's help you out. That would be a wonderful thing if we could begin to live that way."
Foodshare employee Alan Prior added that community members often connect through the giving process.
"It's an awesome thing. You become friends with these people, and you develop relationships," he said.
According to the Foodshare website, the mobile program delivered 2.6 million pounds of produce to those in need in 2009. Foodshare serves both Hartford and Tolland Counties. Visit the organization's website for more information.
The next distribution at UCC is scheduled for April 5. Call 860-875-4160 for more information.