Delivering Food Into the South End

Cars lined down Xavier Street and Washington Street all the way through the intersection of Baldwin Street. The event was scheduled to begin at 11 am and cars began lining up at 8 am. The response was so overwhelming that distribution began an hour early, and in 90 minutes all the boxes were distributed.

Story And Photographs

By John Murray

As the pandemic continues to squeeze America like a python, food shortage is as real a danger to some families as the COVID-19 virus is to others.

In response to the crisis, federal, state and local efforts have collaborated to deliver boxes of food to those in need. Huge lines of cars have waited at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and at Rentschler Field in East Hartford to obtain a box of food.

Locally, the City of Waterbury, PAL, NOW Inc., and three elected officials have sponsored events to deliver boxes of nourishment by tapping into a federally funded Farmers to Families program.

The City has worked with PAL to create successful events on Division Street in the North End and at Municipal Stadium, State Rep. Stephanie Cummings sponsored an event in the East End, Alderman George Noujaim staged an event last week in the East End, and yesterday morning State Rep. Geraldo Reyes Jr. organized food distribution in the heart of the South End of Waterbury.

"The logistics were tougher having the event in the South End but this is where the food was needed the most," Reyes said. "We created a little traffic jam for an hour, but we delivered 1026 boxes of food into the hood."

Reyes obtained the boxes of food by working with Denise Martinez of NOW Inc., who has established contacts with farmers in New York state. After securing a tractor trailer of food, Reyes collaborated with Washington School to bring the food into an area where the median income is in the low $20,000s.

"Washington School is a walk-up school and there are a lot of poor families in this neighborhood," Reyes said. "We wanted to give people with no car a chance to get a box of food, and 70 people walked up and carried a box back to their home."

Each box of staples came with a letter from President Donald Trump.

State Representative Geraldo Reyes Jr. was the driving force of getting a tractor trailer of food delivered into the heart of the South End of Waterbury. "This is where the food needed to be," Reyes said.

Reyes made contact with Washington School principal Inez Ramirez who spread the word through her parent network, and word spread fast.

"We have 319 students at Washington School," Ramirez said, "and they all walk to school every day."

Reyes organized micro-distribution of the food by working with churches and non-profits, and 50 boxes went directly to seniors at the Hispanic Coalition.

"That's exactly who this food is for," Reyes said, "seniors and people who don't have a car to go to Municipal Stadium or PAL or the East End. This is why I'm blocking traffic this morning. This is where the food needed to be.""

Great job by NOW, Washington School, Geraldo Reyes, Avenue Auto and a small army of volunteers to make this important community event happen.

#Waterburystrong

Volunteers from CJR helped make the distribution of boxes quick and efficient.

Denise Martinez of NOW Inc. has the connections to farmers in NY that enabled George Noujaim and Geraldo Reyes to sponsor events in their neighborhoods.

Reyes gave a huge shout out to Avenue Auto for lending fork lifts and expertise needed to quickly unload the tractor trailer.

The staging area on Washington Street was for walk-up distribution, and 70 people walked a box of food back to their home.

Paula Martinez stopped to give Reyes a hug for assisting her with housing, and now delivering food into the neighborhood.