STAMFORD, Conn. -- It will just be a move across the street, but it will be a world of difference for New Covenant House of Hospitality in Stamford as it moves into its new home next month.
The state's largest soup kitchen and one of its largest food pantries will be moving to 174 Richmond Hill Ave. from its current location on the ground floor at the Yerwood Center at 90 Fairfield Ave. It serves Stamford, New Canaan, Greenwich and Darien.
Starting June 9, the food pantry will be open two days per week instead of its current three times per month, said New Covenant Executive Director John Gutman of Norwalk. It will be open Tuesdays and Fridays with an increase in hours from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
It will be a more dignified experience, said Gutman, and will resemble more of a grocery store. The current cramped quarters make it difficult to serve the many families who need assistance.
"Now we have a real grocery store-like environment," he said. "We have a database currently of about 1,000 families that have applied (in the last five years). We know the need is huge and now with expanded days and hours of service we can finally feed those hundreds and potentially 1,000 families in our area."
New Covenant provides about 400,000 meals per year from its food pantry and about 250,000 meals from its daily soup kitchen and off-site programs.
Guests can eat at the soup kitchen with no questions asked. To receive food from the pantry, guests have to complete an application and provide proof of income and residency for each person receiving the aid. Families can visit the food pantry once per month and receive enough food for 10 to 12 days.
Mike Boyd, vice chairman of the advisory board, said about $1.2 million of the $1.7 million of the capital campaign for the project has been reached.
The funds will be pay for renovations, to move into the new building and to fill two years of deficits in the operation, Boyd said.
"We have many more services that we will be offering at this space than the other space," he said. There will also be space for counseling services in the new building as well as job training, especially in the food industry.
"We are in the food business," Gutnam said. "We are really focused on using our facility to teach our guests and other area agency guests for the skills needed to do this to go get jobs."
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