Feeding the Hungry Along the Shoreline

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get helpThe Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries is an interfaith service that provides food and fellowship to those in need and educates our community on hunger and poverty.

Food Pantry Hours:  Saturdays from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Location:  First Congregational Church, 2 Ferry Road, Old Lyme

Audrey Brainerd is our pantry manager.

PLEASE NOTE:  Channel 3 WFSB, Channel 4 WNBC, Fox 61, and Channel 9 WTNH will run weather closing information.

Welcome to the Old Lyme Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen!  We presently serve many families each week on Saturday morning.  We have a wonderful group of volunteers who will make you comfortable whether you need food assistance or would like to become a volunteer yourself!

Many thanks to our friends and neighbors at the Oak Ridge Forest Association in Old Lyme, who collected and delivered 502 pounds of food for the Old Lyme Pantry! We are very grateful for your time and effort, and for all of the wonderful, sought-after items we received. You made a great difference in your community! Thank you!


The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries site located at the First Church, 2 Ferry Road, Old Lyme needs some help:

Thursdays we meet at 1:15.  We have 3 deliveries that day -  two from our wholesalers:  milk, eggs, margarine, meat, cereal, pasta, beans, and all the lovely looking produce.  The other delivery which can be twice as large, depending on what is available at the CT Food Bank, but last week:  all the chips (25 boxes) canned peas, beans, corn, 4 boxes of meat, green peppers, oranges, sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, and about 6-8 boxes of donated canned items.

Two strong helpers set up the rolling tracks (often shovel snow, chip ice) up the back stairs to the truck, which arrives, sending boxes rolling down, and the strong helpers put them into carts.  I need hands to wheel these constantly-filling carts out of the way, hopefully to an area where some are unloaded, especially the 25 boxes of snacks and light-weight items.  If you can push a cart and lift 5-8 pounds this job is for you!


Additionally, strong helpers will bring boxes into the main room and I need help sorting and flattening these, so that we ready to put them on the carts for distribution.  This requires only lifting a can or a 1-pound bag of rice, beans, pasta, etc., and filling a flat (small, shallow cardboard box).  This all usually takes a little over 1 hour (maybe 1 ½ hour).  If you come at 2pm you might plan to stay until 3:15-3:30, if possible.


Fridays we all meet around 8:30am.  This is our day to set up: tables with food along the hall, bring out the shopping carts, paper bags, and tall the wire racks of canned vegetables, soups, canned meat, rice & beans, pasta & sauce, peanut butter & jelly are all filled and rolled out! Strong helpers lift tables and fill boxes with produce.


Others work to get tables and carts ready:  putting individual packets of oatmeal into zip-lock bags, wrapping sliced cheese into smaller quantities, putting some veggies into plastic bags, and wrapping servings – all this work is lightweight and is done upstairs in the kitchen in a group.  If I have many hands working together I can buy large quantities and parcel them down to family size.


Many hands make the work quick so we can finish by 10am, although sometimes I get a little excited by CT Food Bank free food and take more if I think you are available and can stay a little longer (until 10:30am).  Thanks to wonderful volunteers who help bag cut cabbages, separate broccoli, etc. - you makes all the difference in our ability to provide variety and a lot of fresh produce - for many of our guests these items are otherwise difficult to afford.


Saturdays some of you meet me at 7:45 to help take anything that is stored in the 3 refrigerators and 3 freezers out and set up.  By 8:35am I am looking to see who is present, where they would like to greet our guests and help them make their food choices.  By 8:45 we are in position and last Saturday we opened the doors at 8:50am.


We comfortably need about 25 people for each cart, each area of items on tables, the elevators, carts…  This is in addition to the people upstairs in the kitchen, where last Saturday 5 people were needed because the host group was short of people.  And we also have help back in the pantry, where last week we had 5 people who could organize shelves, cut up cardboard, and restock carts.  We usually don’t have these extra hands to help.   Sometimes I am successful asking for students to come but, unfortunately, I haven’t convinced any one group to come consistently, and sometimes we only get a few.  Kids often like the job of walking with guests and their full carts outside down the driveway, loading groceries into car trunks and returning empty carts into circulation.  In good weather this is the best job as they hang out with their friends and happy guests who have received a bounty!  It is a pleasant way to spend a few hours and everyone leaves feeling good.


If you want to try a Saturday we will find a spot for you!


So that’s what our 3 days at the pantry looks like. If you can come another day we would welcome your help - there is a job for what each person can do and wants to do. Call 860-388-1988.


Would you like to help

We are always in need of and happy to receive donations of non-perishable food items.  If you are interested in holding a food drive, please feel free to contact our office at 860-388-1988.  Donations can also be left at the pantry, in the basement of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

Some items we are in need of at our pantry:  pasta, pasta sauce, rice, dried beans, tuna, canned soup, peanut butter, jelly, cereal, canned fruits, canned vegetables, macaroni and cheese, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise.

In addition to groceries, we provide breakfast on Saturdays mornings from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. We are occasionallylooking for "Meal Teams" to provide, prepare and serve breakfast to our guests.  Please call the office if you are interested! 

How to register to receive groceries...
1.  We open the doors of the church at 8:00 a.m.  If you arrive earlierm, you may wait on the handicapped ramp. 
We pass out numbers as guests come in the door.  After 8:00 you can get a number at the registration desk.
2.  If you have never registered, you can get a registration form at the desk.  The form asks for your name, address,
phone number, and the names and ages of all the people in your household.  Please bring a document or identification
that shows your name and your current local address.
You must provide proof that you live in one of the following towns - Madison, Clinton, Killingworth, Centerbrook, Westbrook, Old Saybrook, Essex, Chester, Niantic, Ivoryton, Deep River, Old Lyme, Lyme, and East Lyme.
3.  Bring cloth shopping bags if you have them - otherwise we will provide plastic and paper bags.
4.  Starting at 8:30 a.m., numbers will be called in consecutive order.  From 9:00 to 10:00 we serve a free breakfast
in the Fellowship Room.  The Food Pantry is open until 11:00 a.m.
5.  When your number is called, come to the registration desk where you will be asked for your name, family size, and
food preferences.  You will be given a "menu" with your choices.  You will then proceed downstairs to shop.
6.  Once downstairs, you will be given a shopping card and bags (if you need them).  A volunteer will take your menu to
get your perishable food.
7.  The pantry is set up like a grocery store.  You may choose from each food category according to the signs posted. 
The amount of food distributed is based on the size of your family.  There are volunteers to help you throughout your shopping.  Our goal is to provide your family with enough food for three meals per day for three days.
8.  The next time you visit the pantry, you only have to provide us with your name and ID to sign in.

Volunteer Opportunities:
All opportunities are located at the First Congregational Church in Old Lyme.
Volunteers are needed for the following shifts:
Thursday afternoons ... 1:30-3:00 p.m. ... Help to unload the food from our truck, sorting food, organizing shelves.
Friday mornings ... 8:30-10:00 a.m. to sort food, organize shelves, and set up for Saturday.
*Saturday mornings ... 8:00-11:00 a.m. to assist in grocery distribution, helping clients with shopping.

*Greatest Need

Here is a "snapshot" of the Old Lyme Pantry volunteers in November of 2014:




The Old Lyme Pantry - At The First Congregational Church in Old Lyme


Date of Visit: November 8th, 2014


Pantry Distribution Time: Every Saturday from 9AM to 11AM


Unique offerings: One different aspect of this pantry is the hot breakfast which is served every week, concurrent with the food distribution. All the guests are able to enjoy a wonderful home cooked hot meal - and this means that they never have to "shop hungry" at the pantry.


Today's Challenge: Today there was less meat than usual. However, plans were well underway for the large Thanksgiving distribution later in the month, which will include either a turkey or an equivalent grocery store gift card for everyone.


Some Team Details: The Old Lyme pantry has a team of 60 regular volunteers who help on Saturday mornings, as well as set-up work done on Thursdays and Fridays.


Something Special: Today there was an additional team of high school volunteers from Wheeler High School in North Stonington. This group of around 15 teenagers is part of an international club called OXFAM, dedicated to creating lasting solutions to poverty and hunger. The group has been volunteering at the Old Lyme Pantry regularly for over 6 years.





Guerdy Germain


Years helping at the Pantry: 2

Job: I'm trained to work at all the areas - that way I can fill in where needed. Today I'm handing out the meat and setting up the vegetables.

Favorite thing: I like interacting with the families - it uplifts your morning when they give you a smile!

How did you join the Team? My Mom helps out here, too. I used to go with her to church on Sundays, but now I work on Sunday so we do this together instead.

Fun Fact: I love to work on cars. I like to help people out when they need help fixing their cars.





Kathy Campanaro


Years helping at the Pantry: 4

Job: I'm giving out the bananas today. I started helping at Old Saybrook Pantry and came to the Old Lyme Pantry about a year ago.

Favorite thing: I like talking to people and getting to know them. Sometimes they just need a nice "hello - how are you doing?". They like to know that you remember them.

How did you join the Team? I was a guest originally. After that, I wanted to help. When I was in really great need the food pantry was a lifesaver.

About You: I love to garden, and I love my grandkids. I have two that are 17 and one that is 8.





Mark Whelen


Years helping at the Pantry: 6

Job: On Fridays I make up a cart of the most popular items - then at the distribution I help re-stock so nothing runs out.

Favorite thing: The clients - meeting the clients is my favorite thing. We get a lot of people here, and you get to know them.

How did you join the Team? I saw an ad in the Shoreline Times.

About You: I also volunteer at Christ the King Church, and help clean up for them after Mass.
















Lily Hartmann, senior at lOL High School and president of the Student Leaders Club, raised money from a lip sync contest.


Thank you Joan Ryan and Barbara Farmer (Co-Presidents of the Lyme Tree Woman's Exchange) for a $1,000 donation!
Pictured left to right:  Joan Ryan, Sherrie Weiss, Jenn Cusack, Barbara Farmer.

Students from the Lyme School Senate collected and donated 860 pounds of food recently.  They even carried it in and weighed it all!  They took a tour of the Old Lyme facility and asked lots of great questions!  Thank you!

Thanks to Lisa O'Brien and family and friends who held a food drive at Gnazzo's Grocery Store in Plainville on Sunday, November 4.  Here are photos of food collected.  The truck was on loan from CT Tool.  Thanks to all involved.

Frank Sablone donated 110 pounds of food from his 9th birthday party, as well as a $10 check.   Frank is a 3rd grader at Lyme Consolidated School in Lyme.  Thank you!

Note our Easter basket donation - Many thanks!







© 2022 Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries