Serving the Homebound Community
| Photo courtesy of FISH of Greater New Haven Inc.
Volunteers for FISH of Greater New Haven Inc. deliver free bags of food to more than 1,100 homebound individuals in New Haven and surrounding areas every month. This includes 350 families, 75% of which include elderly and children.
“We deliver to people who are homebound or going through some type of hardship,” says FISH Executive Director Joy Johannes. “For instance, they’ve had a surgery and it’s difficult to get to the grocery story, they have a child who’s going through a major medical treatment, they’re elderly, they’re handicapped.”
While the majority of deliveries are in the City of New Haven, they do have a few clients in East Haven and West Haven. The clients are predominately low income to very low income individuals.
Two weeks of groceries are packed and delivered by volunteers, which include retirees, as well as individuals from local disabled service organizations ACORD, Ben Haven, Chapel Haven, The Kennedy Center, DRN, Vantage and Easter Seals.
Deliveries include a bag of groceries, a bag of meat and some fresh produce. While bags are not packed with specific requests, FISH does take into consideration allergies or specific preferences, such as no fish or no pork.
“Since I’ve taken over we have been very strategic in making sure that they get substantial meat products, frozen meats and produce,” says Johannes. “Almost $36,000 worth of fresh produce was donated this year. It’s unbelievable.”
FISH received a $60,000 multi-year responsive grant from The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven in 2015 to support its general operations. The grant was made possible by the Silverthau and Ophelia Funds.
FISH was organized in 1968 by Saint John’s Episcopal Church in North Haven, Dunbar United Church in Hamden and Christian Community Action Agency in New Haven.
In the beginning, volunteers provided hot meals, transportation to medical appointments, baby-sitting and accommodations in emergency situations. Many other agencies are now providing these services and FISH continues its services by providing free bags of non-perishable groceries directly to the homes of people in need.
“Over time we realized nobody was really doing this grocery delivery so we stuck with that,” says Johannes. “So that’s what we’ve been doing for all these years.”
Individuals go through a screening process that consists of a number of questions to determine eligibility. They are requalified annually.
“We have initiated an Intake Assessment Form as of 2014 that allows us to reach some of the most vulnerable population that are homebound,” says Johannes.
She stressed that it is the responsibility of the receiver to be home when the food is delivered.
“They have to be home. That’s the only thing we ask. We will bring you free groceries, but you have to be home. It’s only a three hour window and so that way they have some responsibility in it.”
Missing two deliveries within a year means losing this service for at least three months. After that they can reapply.
“There has to be some ownership on their part,” Johannes says.
FISH clients are all very grateful for what the organization does for them, says Johannes.
“They are really thrilled at what they’re getting and we have the kind of clients that call us back and just thank us for what we do.”
For more information, visit the FISH profile on giveGreater.org.
Did You Know?
In 2014, a $20 donation would buy 90 dozen eggs, 150 1lb. bags of white rice, 75 2lb. bags of brown rice and 48 boxes of macaroni & cheese.