WINDSOR — As a man and woman peer over a half-door into the Windsor Food Bank, volunteer Dorene Gerrish gives them a run-down of their options.

“How about beans?” Gerrish says. “I have chili, I have pork and beans, I have baked beans.”

The couple ask for dry beans and some cans of chili for themselves and their two sons. Gerrish places the items in a cardboard box that she’ll pass over the door once it’s full.

Gerrish and her sister, Diane Dow, run through the same routine with several families that evening, taking requests for juice, canned vegetables, frozen meats and boxes of cereal.

“We’re like Vanna White: ‘What would you like?’ ” Dow said later, waving her arm toward the shelves of canned food with a flourish. “Some food banks let people come in, but we don’t have room.”

Shelves line two sides of the 12-by-15 foot room where the food bank operates in the Windsor Town Office. The volunteers can’t open the fridge or the two upright freezers all the way without bumping the long table running down the middle of the room — a surface for loading boxes of food and keeping up with paperwork.


Because there’s not much storage space for food, volunteers have to make more frequent trips to pick up donations and find other places to keep them.

“Sometimes we have to store some of the stuff at our home and bring it in when we can,” Dow said.

Town officials and the food bank — operated by Windsor Memorial Baptist Church and North Windsor Baptist Church — are working together to move the food bank to a new, larger space.

The town is not contributing any taxpayer money, Board of Selectmen Chari Ray Bates said, but it is providing the space: A 16-by-34 foot garage bay, one of three in the town garage next door.

The town manager’s office will be moved to that room, which is closer to the front desk and will make the town manager more accessible, Bates said.

“I hate to use clichés, but it really is a win-win situation for (Windsor Food Bank) and for the town,” he said. “The town gets to use some space inside the building in a more efficient way, and they get to use a building that’s really been sitting there vacant for quite some time and making better use of it.”


Renovations to close off the bay from the rest of the garage, plus the purchase of new equipment such as movable shelves and chest freezers, will cost more than $16,000, said Debbie Gray, chairwoman of the food bank.

The food bank has raised about $5,000 this year with a walkathon, a benefit dinner and a Windsor Days event. Organizers also applied for an $8,000 grant from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation.

Gray got a call this week saying a check is “in the mail” from the foundation, but she doesn’t know how much it will be for.

More people, especially young families, are seeking help from the food bank, which serves about 30 households each month, Gray said. In 2009, the food bank distributed 24 Thanksgiving baskets; last year it was 43.

Windsor Food Bank is open 6:30-8 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of the month, and each household can receive food once a month.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645

[email protected]

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