Food for the Homebound

FISH of Greater New Haven, which delivers fresh food to the homebound, strengthened the safety net for local veterans this past year through a new partnership with the Veteran's Administration of West Haven.

FISH delivers two weeks' worth of groceries once a month to homebound individuals.

FISH of Greater New Haven strengthened the safety net for local veterans this past year through a new partnership with the West Haven VA. FISH, which delivers fresh food to the homebound, now also provides food to veterans who recently moved into supportive housing.

The new service targeting formerly homeless veterans is the latest example of how community partnerships enable this small nonprofit to have a big impact.

"We helped 1,100 people last year with one full-time staff member," says Executive Director Jilan Crowley. "The magic of how FISH works is through all of our volunteers and partner agencies."

Working more closely with the West Haven VA was part of the impetus for the 49-year old organization's recent move to West Haven, where it sublets a new space from another partner agency, Marrakech Inc. The move and a general operating support grant from The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven helped allowed FISH to expand by 30% this year.

FISH, which stands for Food In Service to the Homebound, provides two weeks of nutritious food staples - including fresh produce from Massaro Community Farm and frozen meat - once a month to people who cannot leave their homes. The program is designed as a supplement to keep food on the shelves of the most vulnerable.

"We just do this simple thing that frees up resources for other social service agencies and our clients," says Crowley. "It helps our clients emotionally as well because it gives them the predictability of seeing on the calendar the day they will get a delivery."

One client is so appreciative that she sends FISH volunteers back to the office with a freshly baked cake after every delivery.

"When I went to thank her for the cakes, she said, 'You have changed my life. Before FISH, my daughter and I would split a can of peas for three days at the end of every month,'" Crowley says.

FISH uses a vulnerability index to determine eligibility and makes deliveries in New Haven, West Haven, Hamden, and parts of East Haven. Nearly 4 in 10 of its clients are seniors. Others are either disabled or in emergency situations. Individuals who need food but don't qualify for home delivery are connected to a nearby food pantry.

Many of the volunteers who assemble the food for clients come from local agencies that serve adults with developmental disabilities, such as Chapel Haven. "It's such a model of success because it's adapted to their abilities and they know it's real work. They recognize that they are doing something good and important," says Crowley.

FISH is funded largely through private donations, grants, and donor-advised funds at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

For more information about FISH of Greater New Haven, visit its profile on

Did you know?

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.

This story is part of the Inspiration Monday story series produced by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.