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.

Over 1,700 pounds of food was collected by the Essex Community Fund and the Essex Police Department at a special "Stuff-A-Cruiser" Food Drive on September 6th outside the Colonial Market in Essex.

Responding to our call for much needed non-perishable food donations to stock our pantry shelves, the community showed how much they care with donations of pasta, rice, sauces, cereals, canned fruits and vegetables, soups, peanut butter, and jelly.

Thanks to all those who donated food and especially to the Essex Community Fund and the Essex Police Department!




Lynn Abraham, one of our SSKP Heat &Eat Volunteers, noticed last week that the pasta supplies were running low, so she reached out to her friends will a special challenge. How much pasta could they could collect? The Hundred Pound Pasta Challenge was born! As soon as she put out the word to her book club, beach club and circle of friends, the pasta started rolling in. “Each friend gave between 5 and 12 boxes. It's only been five days, and we already have 94 pounds!” said Lynn. "We still have until September 12th, so we're doing great!”

100 pound pasta

How could you challenge your friends? Call us and let us know!

cede cares photo group


Even if you hadn't read the big banner, or seen the logo on her shirt, you would know that Cede cares. You'd know by the hand picked summer squash, carefully laid out in rows, along with ripe tomatoes, bags of green beans, shiny purple eggplant and peppers in shades of yellow, red and orange. A large assortment of homemade jams and jellies in Mason jars are marked with the "Cede Cares" logo on top, next to bags of crisscrossed peanut butter cookies, thick chocolate brownies in wax paper, hazelnut crusted truffles and loaves of  pumpkin bread. Everything on display is the caring work of Cede (short for Mercedes) Peno, a seasoned farm stand operator at age 9. By her side is her grandfather, Sam Riggio, veteran of a much bigger enterprise, Riggio's Garden Center of Essex, and a second generation owner of the family business established in 1939.


Together every Saturday they operate the Cede Cares Farmstand, located in front of the Garden Center, and every penny, (not just the profits...all the money earned) is donated to The Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries.  Last year during the 5 week season they collected $1,525 for SSKP, along with 60 lbs of food. A hand written poster announces the 2013 goal: "This year my goal is to raise $2,000 and 250lbs of food. Thank you for your support!" You might expect gourmet prices for home grown produce and baked goods, but you'll find everything is quite reasonable. "Since its all donated, we try to keep our prices just below what the grocery stores charge," said Sam. "Once people learn what we're all about, they usually give an extra couple dollars anyway."


Cede's motto is "Help me help others". More than just a catch phrase, it embodies her philanthropic nature, which became evident at a very early age, when she was just six years old.  Beyond all the work in the garden, operating the farm stand, and doing all the baking, other summer projects include a door-to-door food drive with her mom, Bethany, and weekly raffle prizes awarded for donations to a " food collection basket". Originally started several years ago to support the Veteran's Hall in Centerbrook, this is the second year the stand had benefitted Shoreline Soup Kitchens. Ever since a visit to SSKP when she was seven, Cede has dedicated her efforts to helping the hungry of the Shoreline.


Her 3 year old little brother Zander (short for Alexander), can often be seen helping out at the stand, and Cede says he also helps with the baking, along with her mom and grandmother.


Stop by the Cede Cares Farmstand next Saturday! It's open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through the summer season, at Riggios Garden Center, 135 Westbrook Road, Essex. Meet Cede, Sam and her caring family and help them reach their goal. You'll receive much more than just delicious fresh food. Thank you, Cede! Your caring spirit is an inspiration to people of every age.



cede and sam

my purchaseraffle bin


    "I could do that!”



That’s what Jacob Kateley, age 11, of Deep River thought as he sat in church, listening to the story of a boy who had raised money by asking his neighbors for their redeemable bottles and cans. Called the “Kingdom Challenge”, the church had asked kids to take a small amount of money and turn it into a greater amount to benefit others. Though Jacob wasn’t part of the church’s initiative, he decided to challenge himself, and thought the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries was the perfect charity to benefit.


That was three years ago. This week Jacob brought in two crisp hundred dollar bills to bring his grand total of donations to SSKP to $800.00! “I have another $50 at home, but I don’t like to bring in the money until I have full hundred dollar bills”, Jacob explained.


Since he started his campaign at age 8, he has developed a network of people who donate to his cause, and his mom Sarah has set aside a section in their garage to store the thousands of bottles and cans. Some people regularly drop them off, others his mom drives to homes for him to pick up. When they have a large number gathered, they take them to a redemption center so they can get the maximum return. The last time they went they turned in over 1,000 items!


Sometimes the work to collect and redeem the bottles and cans is dirty, time consuming and tiring, but Jacob’s commitment is unwavering. He started with a small idea, but stuck with it, never gave up, and exemplifies the true spirit of giving back. 

Now Jacob’s little sister Emily, age 9, has been inspired to help. She’s begun making crafts with her friends to sell as a fundraiser for SSKP. “I’ve got $35 so far,” she said with a smile.


Are you thinking, “I could do that”? You can be a part of Jacob’s challenge, or honor his giving spirit! Email SSKP at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out how to donate your bottles and cans to Jacob, or send a check to The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, PO Box 804, Essex, CT with “Jacob’s Challenge” on the memo line. To give by credit card, click here and choose Jacob's Challenge as the campaign:  Support Jacob's Challenge

Why not begin your own challenge? Be sure to let us know so we can help spread the word!


The Essex Cub Scouts Pack 4 worked together to raise critically needed food for The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries.  For the third year in a row the Scouting for Food event took place in April.  Pack 4 collected a total of 839 items weighing 919.2 pounds.  The scouts spent several weekends out canvassing their neighborhoods for donations and then came together and counted and weighed everything they collected.  This was the second year that for logistical ease the troop dropped off the food at the Essex Firehouse on Fire House Food Drive Day.


SSKP sends special thanks to the Essex Cub Scouts Pack 4;  their efforts made a real and tangible difference in the lives of those in need along the shoreline and many families have food because of them.  For more information please visit www.shorelinesoupkitchens.org


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