January & February, 2023

Play Up! Play Up! And Play the Game

As you may know, we get around 75% of all the food we distribute from our food bank partner, Connecticut Foodshare. But have you ever wondered how that food gets ordered? It's more fun than you might think!

In some ways, the process is similar to ordering groceries online. Except that you are ordering for 300+ families from a quirky store that may or may not have much to choose from. And doing it twice per week.

That doesn't really capture the experience though. In reality, it's more like some madcap game of Hungry Hungry Hippos played against rival food pantries dotted around the state. There's only so much food to go around, after all, so you better be quick! Putting something in your basket is no guarantee it will still be available when you "check out." The pressure is ratcheted up even further, because items are often described rather cryptically (the system has no pictures), and some things are tantalizingly designated as "if available". So exactly what you are grabbing, if you are grabbing anything at all, is not always 100% clear.

For every order, the game has several "rounds" - you can adjust your order as many times as you like within a designated ordering window, with new items appearing at seemingly random times. If you like checking your Instagram feed a hundred times a day, you'll love this game! Adding even more excitement, the ordering window can change for all sorts of reasons: and if you haven't ordered on time - No Food For You!

There's a Tetris-like component, too, because everything you order has to fit on the delivery truck, and then be squeezed into the pantry. Don't spend too long thinking about that though: if you hesitate, the item may be gone!

There's some skill to all this but, like any good game, there is an element of luck too. Log in at exactly the right time, and you can score big time. Delay by five minutes and you are filling the truck with rutabaga and praying that some more desirable things are added before your ordering window slams shut.

Finally, any worthwhile game needs new features to keep things fresh. For 2023, some items are now only available for purchase (previously, everything was free). So, should you spring for twenty cases of expensive Cheerios, or keep your fingers crossed for a food drive jackpot? Only you can decide, and the clock is ticking! (No foreshadowing here, naturally).

Wanna have a go yourself? Apply Within!

Sounds  Fun - Pass Me The Torch!

Cereal Dominos, Part 2

Lol, total foreshadowing. Of course you shouldn't have sprung for the Cheerios! Now you have nowhere to put them.

Farmingville Elementary School in Ridgefield really one-upped Bethel's Rockwell Elementary School in the hyper-competitive world of food drive dominos. Pictured here are Farmingville's Principal Nancy Caron (L) and Art teacher Rachael Zumbo-Penney, with just a small fraction of the 600 boxes of breakfast munchie goodness collected by students - comfortably beating Rockwell's total brought in last year. There is a video - of course there is. And the cutthroat world of elementary school food drive rivalry will shortly be the subject of our new hit Podcast, Cereal. Ahem.

Watch the video here or head over the the Daily Bread You Tube Channel

2023 Is Off To A Crazy Start

Not to sound like a broken record, but we are breaking the other kind of records once again. Although 2022 was our busiest year ever, there were only a handful of weeks when we served more than 500 families - and never close to 600. So far in 2023, we have served over 600 families almost every week.

While there is a feel-good factor to helping so many people, this situation is simply not sustainable over the long term - we do not have the space or logistics to feed such numbers. While no one is turned away without food, folks coming toward the end of distributions get less - which in some ways can produce more inequities than further limiting the number of visits allowed per month. Nothing yet to announce here, but we are looking at both short and long-term changes to respond to this new reality.

ChatGPT Fail

If you think these Newsletters are boring, I present to you Exhibit A, in which I attempt to save myself a few hours of work by enlisting the services of ChatGPT, the new AI wonder that's billed to take over all our jobs.

And Exhibit B. Looks like our jobs are safe, folks. I'll give it credit for at least trying to be helpful though.

News Bites


As this issue goes to press, the first major winter storm is blowing outside. But so far this year, we've had pretty mild weather. That said, we have had a couple of distributions where the temperatures have dropped into the single digits - including this one where it was so cold the camera (or the photographer) went all wonky.

Not so cold that Maria, Julie and Kemi couldn't manage a smile though.

Staying Healthy

A diet with plenty of fresh, nutritious food is the cornerstone of good health and should be available to all - that's part of our mission.

But there is more to staying healthy than diet, and we are grateful to partner with local Health Departments to get the word out about all things health-related. Here Jake and Eli from the Norwalk Health Department get ready to hand out helpful information to our guests (not to mention some first-rate schwag!)

Mosaic Fun!

What a talented and creative group we have at Daily Bread! When not handing out tons of food to hungry families, they are busy making beautiful objets d'art such as these amazing mosaics. Here, Marybeth, Norma and Elizabeth show off their latest masterpieces, while mentor Pattie waves her arms around.

New Grant!

We have been awarded a significant grant from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture to expand our refrigeration capacity.

As the warmer months approach, this will allow us to keep more food in optimal condition, including food produced right here in Connecticut.

Farewell Marybeth

Even writing this is hard, but the time has finally (almost) arrived when we must say farewell to Marybeth Alpuche. To mention just a few of her contributions, Marybeth served the pantry as Volunteer Coordinator, Board member, and Corporate Secretary. She has worked just about every distribution from the start of the COVID pandemic, and even opened her home to throw a memorable party for all Daily Bread volunteers.

None of this explains the outpouring of love from everyone when the reality of her impending departure could no longer be ignored. That explanation lies in her warmth, transparent goodness, and that special something we sense when we have met an exceptional person.

Somewhat against her wishes ("I don't want a fuss"), we had a little leaving ceremony after a recent distribution. The Daily Bread Social Committee did an excellent job as always, and since I am stumbling to find the words in my heart, I'll just leave you with a few highlights from the event.

Meaningful Presents!

What better present for a dedicated gardener like Marybeth than a couple of pear trees for her new garden in Pennsylvania. Given on the condition that any fruit is donated to the pantry, of course! Then there was a book, Stone Soup, which could be about the pantry, if you have an allegorical frame of mind. Or you could just read the nice things everyone wrote inside the cover. Since the Daily Bread Merch Store hasn't quite been the runaway success I had hoped, we threw in a Daily Breadle mug too. A handcut paper model of Marybeth in front of the pantry rounded things out. But wait, there's more...

An Amusing Card!

No store-bought card could possibly be worthy, so Pattie Thompson set to work and created this work of genius. Watch your back Hallmark!

A Yummy Cake!

No store-bought cake could possibly be worthy, so...oh wait, we had a store- bought cake. It was still pretty yummy though.

More Pictures!

Historians will puzzle over the significance of the three bags. But if you know, you know.

We made Marybeth come to her own party even though she was suffering from a terrible cold.

Debbie Fantel with three of her young charges.

Gladys (4th from left) brought her famous lasagne - so large it came with its own gravitational field. No-one escaped the pull of its cheesy goodness.

Thank you again, Marybeth.

Best wishes to you, Chuck, and your entire family as you start the next chapter of your lives in Pennsylvania.

203-826-8252 | contact@dailybreadfoodpantry.com | dailybreadfoodpantry.com

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