FARMINGTON — Some local businesses are stepping up to help feed people in need through the Care and Share Food Closet.
The closet provided a few days of food once a month to nearly 9,000 people last year, a thousand more than the previous year.
“The challenge is trying to raise enough money to keep our shelves supplied,” Carolyn McLaughlin, food closet co-chairman, said in the closet’s annual report.
Following a successful Prohibition-styled “speak-easy” event last fall to benefit the food closet, the Homestead Restaurant is hosting a Valentine’s Dinner Dance on Saturday, Feb. 11, with dinner served from 5 to 9 p.m. and the dance at 8 p.m.
Once again, the local South Strong Road Crew, featuring Doug and Sherry Walrath, Scott Dixon and Andy Buckland, will play music for easy listening and dancing, including waltzes, fox trots, Bossa novas and swing.
The speak-easy event was pretty boisterous, Doug Walrath said, and so popular that it will become an annual one.
The Valentine Dinner Dance is quieter with nice, slow, easy dance music, he said.
“It will be an elegant evening filled with romance, love, dinner and dancing for two,” Laurie Danforth, Homestead’s organizer said.
The Food Closet has connected with some local businesses, including the Homestead, who donated proceeds from the fall event and is providing $400 worth of fresh veggies and eggs. They are helping us with more events, including this Valentine Dinner Dance, McLaughlin said.
When the restaurant orders supplies it adds an extra 50 pounds each of potatoes, carrots and onions along with a case or 15 dozen eggs for the food closet, which Tony McLaughlin, co-chairman, picks up weekly. It also adds in some fresh breads from the restaurant.
Others have stepped up, too, including Pins & Needles owner Sheri Tompkins who challenged her quilters to provide money and canned goods for Thanksgiving baskets, McLaughlin said. Trask’s Apple Orchard gave 100 bags of apples for those baskets. Local farmers provide fresh vegetables and food drives held by the community, churches, post office and schools have helped.
That’s what it’s about, neighbors helping neighbors, Doug Walrath said.
The couple have played and sung for years because they love to make music. They became involved with these fundraising events because they and others realize with state and public funding cutbacks, someone else needs to step up.
“People who live in the community will have to take more responsibility to help neighbors in need,” Walrath said.
It’s not going to go away. It’s not temporary. The government is not going to be able to carry the load, he said. In years gone by that’s how people helped people in need. If someone was sick, people got together and cut their hay or put up their firewood.
“These events bring people together. They have a good time and at the same time help their neighbors,” he said.
Even the domestic violence agency, Safe Voices, is receiving calls from people with no food, Jane Morrison, director, told the town’s Budget Committee last week. They aren’t victims but are just in need of food, she said.
For the first time locally, Good Shepherd Food-Bank will bring a trailer full of food to give away from 10 a.m. to noon on Feb. 23, McLaughlin said.
A Farmington Area Ecumenical Ministry organization, the closet is governed by a Board of Directors made up of representatives from area churches.
There are also 50-plus volunteers who help keep the closet running, she said.
People attending the dinner or just the dance can also help by bringing a can of soup, baked beans or cash to add to a big food basket at Homestead, Danforth said. For more information or reservations, call 778-6162.