Community has always been our key to success. In the past two-and-a-half years, COVID has made that clearer than ever. Not a day goes by at DESK when I’m not on the phone with one of our dozens of partners: businesses, schools, faith-based organizations, funding agencies, and—these days especially—other social service providers like DESK.
A strong community can meet the challenge of any crisis, whether it’s a global pandemic or our neighbors forced to live on the streets. That’s why we’ve forged a new partnership with our longtime friends at Loaves & Fishes.
I’m telling you all this because you should know that when you support our work, you’re not only supporting DESK; you’re supporting a community of providers.
Building a Community to Last
When it comes to helping people, New Haven is a great place to work collaboratively. In 2019, DESK became one of the founding organizations of the Greater New Haven Coordinated Food Assistance Network, or CFAN, a collaboration of more than 60 members and two dozen food pantries, soup kitchens, and other food assistance providers. I’ve had the honor of serving as one of the co-chairs since that time. CFAN has been instrumental throughout the pandemic in getting food out to underserved communities, coordinating “summer gap” meals for students in the New Haven Public Schools, and offering technical assistance and trainings to newer pantries just starting out.
DESK also works shoulder-to-shoulder with homelessness service providers through the Greater New Haven Regional Alliance to End Homelessness and the Coordinated Access Network (CAN). These groups bring together dozens of partners on a daily basis to coordinate street outreach, shelter, medical and psychiatric care, supportive housing, and financial stabilization. DESK’s new Drop-in & Resource Center plays a critical role as part of this system, offering a front door for those who are unhoused.
Designing the Olive Street Pantry
For many years, DESK has worked closely with Loaves & Fishes, a food pantry based out of the Church of St. Paul & St. James at the corner of Chapel and Olive St. Like DESK, the staff and volunteers at Loaves & Fishes believe in the importance of dignity and a client-centered approach to helping people access nutritious food. And, like DESK, they have pushed the limits and expanded their impact in recent years. With only two blocks between them and our new Drop-in & Resource Center on State Street, a partnership felt natural.
This summer, after months of preparations, we moved DESK’s Wednesday pantry to Loaves & Fishes’ building, blending some of our staff and volunteers and providing more coordinated services than ever before. With that, the Olive Street Pantry was born! The response from our “shoppers” has been very positive so far: less confusion, easier access, better experience. And that’s what it’s all about.
* * *
At DESK, we’re not afraid to be bold, and we’re not resistant to change. Whether it’s launching new programs, forging new partnerships, or defining what it means to be more than a “soup kitchen,” DESK takes a modern, progressive, community-based approach. We build as big a tent as possible, and welcome as many as we can to dwell within it.
Your support today will help build a bigger tent by enabling a community to ensure basic, lifesaving needs and provide critical resources that will move individuals and families beyond homelessness and poverty.
Support your community by giving online at deskct.org/community.
And thank you for being a partner in our community!