Feeding the Hungry Along the Shoreline

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get helpThe Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries is an interfaith service that provides food and fellowship to those in need and educates our community on hunger and poverty.


The Cheryl Mehalik Luyster Fund at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County has generously awarded a grant to SSKP of $2,000.00. Cheryl’s friends and family created the Fund to honor and remember Cheryl, a longtime Old Saybrook resident, and to support the causes she was passionate about. This award was especially meaningful because Cheryl had been a longtime cook and volunteer at our Wednesday meal at Grace Episcopal Church in Old Saybrook and had served as Team Leader for the meal site.


“We are so grateful to receive this generous grant from The Cheryl Mehalik Luyster Fund,” said Patty Dowling. “Her caring spirit lives on in the hearts of all who knew her. This gift will provide support to a mission that she cared so deeply about: providing a place at the table for her neighbors.”

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Her husband, Frank Luyster, and Thayer Talbott, of the Community Foundation, presented the award to executive director Patty Dowling, along with SSKP volunteers Michael Urban and Joyce Hansel, who fondly remembered working alongside Cheryl as members of the team of cooks at the Wednesday lunch.


“Cheryl’s commitment to her community and her determination to make an impact on the issues faced by her neighbors will continue thanks to the generosity of her friends and family,” explained Cynthia Clegg, President  & CEO of the Community Foundation. “We are honored to work with Frank and Cheryl’s closest friends to address basic needs through the Cheryl Mehalik Luyster Fund. They knew Cheryl best and knew her passions and hopes for her community. By working with the Community Foundation, because of its knowledge and resources, Cheryl’s legacy will continue in our communities today – and forever.”


The Community Foundation of Middlesex County is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for the people of the County, now and in the future, by developing endowments, making grants that have impact and assisting donors in meeting their philanthropic objectives. Since its founding in 1997, the Community Foundation has awarded 1,100 grants totaling over $3.3 million for the arts, cultural and heritage programs, educational activities, environmental improvements and for health and human services. For more information, visit CFMC’s website: www.MiddlesexCountyCF.org



The 2014 IFoundFitness “Winter River Valley Slim Down” challenge included over 30 people competing for $2,300 in prizes. In addition, the competition raised $478 to purchase a food donation for The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries. The winner, Sarina Garofalo, lost 21% of her body weight in 12 weeks through the challenge.


The total weight of the food donated was equally impressive, resulting in 339 pounds of food for SSKP’s Westbrook Pantry, which distributes over 15,000 pounds of food every month to hundreds of local families in need. When the funds were brought to the Deep River Adams Supermarket, manager Jeff Prindle sold the food “at cost”, making every penny count for the pantry.


Donna Scott, owner of of IFoundFitness, repeats this special challenge several times per year. “Getting people of all ages fit, through regular exercise and healthy eating, and then giving back to the community is what it's about!”, she said.


“On behalf of those we serve, who experience a community that cares deeply each time they attend a pantry, I thank IFoundFitness and all the challenge participants for remembering those in need on the shoreline,” said Patty Dowling, executive director of SSKP.


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Left to right: Claire Bellerjeau of SSKP, Donna Scott, Owner of IFoundFitness, Jeff Prindle, Store Manager of the Deep River Adams Super Food Store, and the top three winners of the challenge: first place, Sarina Garofalo, second place, “Santa” Dave Puffer, and third place, Deb Garofalo, pictured with the food donation.



Guests at the March 9th SSKP Meal Site at Grace Episcopal Church were welcomed with a beautiful violin performance by 11 year old Emily May. Emily, a student of violin for 2 years, has performed at the Old Saybrook Meal Site several times, as well as playing her violin at area assisted living facilities and community centers. Her repertoire of traditional hymns and classical music delighted the guests as they enjoyed their lunch, and many remarked at what a lovely addition her music had brought to their day. Emily’s mother Dawn added, "Our family believes strongly in giving back. She is a multi-talented girl who has been given many talents by God that we are happy to share."

Thank you, Emily May, for sharing your gift of music!

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 In March a group of Essex Girl Scouts from the River Service Unit, which includes Essex, Chester and Deep River, held a special food drive for The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries as part of their “World Thinking Day” project. Through the drive they collected 558 pounds of non-perishable food, which was delivered to SSKP’s Westbrook Pantry for distribution to those who are struggling to provide food for their families. In the spring food donations are typically lower, so the food drive was much appreciated.

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“We are so grateful that the Girl Scouts of Troop 62041 remembered the needy of the shoreline on ‘World Thinking Day’”, said Patty Dowling, executive director of SSKP. “Because of their thoughtfulness, we are able to make a place at the table for those in our community who are in need.”

For the 3rd year, local Fire Departments are hosting an area-wide food drive to collect non-perishable food for area residents in need.


The fire stations will be open to receive donations of non-perishable food on Saturday, April 26th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  The donations will go to five local food pantries run by The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries.


SSKP hopes to include all fire departments in the 11 shoreline towns they serve. So far, Old Saybrook, Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, North Madison, Killingworth, Niantic (both Grand Street and West Main Street), Old Lyme and Westbrook fire departments have committed to the event. Several other departments are pending. Watch for announcements on the SSKP website, www.shorelinesoupkitchens.org. All fire departments are welcome to participate.



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