project leader
Melanie D
872 Main St
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the project

Community Table/Mesa Comunitaria was initiated in the summer of 2020. With families out of work because of the global pandemic and many barriers in place to receive assistance, Mesa Comunitaria/Community Table became an emergency food response in Willimantic.  

It exists today as a pantry service that delivers weekly boxes of food to 35 families in need, with an emphasis on reaching Latinx immigrant women and teens in Willimantic. These boxes are filled with food gleaned from local farmers, gardeners and pantries and supplemented with additional groceries purchased through community fundraising efforts. The boxes are packed and delivered by recipients and community members who are compensated for their time through a stipend program. 

Access to food - healthy, culturally-appropriate food - is a human right. and to reach food security.  We aim to reduce the barriers in place for community members to access food while maintaining an atmosphere of dignity and respect. Please join us to both support our local food economy and help feed your neighbors.

You CAN be a part of the solution!

the steps

Feeding our Community: 35 local households have been identified in our community as needing extra assistance. These families are unemployed or underemployed, homebound, are immunocompromised, and/or lack access to other resources and transportation. They may have faced language or accessibility barriers at other food pantries. 

Knowing our shareholders: Recipients are encouraged to fill out regular food preference surveys, including number of people in the household, dietary restrictions, allergies, likes and dislikes.  The surveys are essential to understanding what foods are culturally appropriate for families. This information also drives the decision making in the spring when our partnering farmers are making crop plans for the season. 

Shifting power: Most activities at Community Table are constituent led and organized.  Shareholders receive a stipend in return for their time and shop, pack, and deliver for the program.  This gives families direct control over what food is sourced for the program, while compensating them for work that they would otherwise not have the time or privilege to carry out on a volunteer basis.

Meeting People Where They Are: The pantry program is entirely run on contact free delivery of weekly boxes.  This provides food to families that don’t have access to reliable transportation to pick up food, or work during the limited hours other food pantries hold.

Community Partnerships: Grow Windham and the WAIM community garden have committed to donating the food grown in the Lauter Park growing spaces to provide these families with produce based on survey preferences. Local pantries such as Access Agency, Salvation Army, and the Covenant Soup Kitchen, and MWFB of New England have also agreed to contribute additional food such as bread, milk, meat, and non-perishables to these boxes. Sharing of resources goes both ways and when we have a surplus of produce or pantry items we distribute to our network of partner agencies.

Sourcing Local: We partner with four local farms and provide them with yearly stipends to receive food “gleaned” from their farms. Students at the UConn Spring valley farm help travel to these farms during the growing season and harvest produce that would otherwise not be economically feasible for farmers to sell. 

Feeding the Economy: Through a recent Local Food Purchasing grant we have secured funds to source food directly from local producers to fill a majority of the box contents.  This food, purchased at retail value, will be redistributed directly to our community while supporting our farmers through an injection of federal funds.

Reducing Food Waste: Through the Plant-A-Row program we ask backyard growers to donate any bumper crops or excess vegetables their family cannot eat themselves.  In a similar vein to sharing extra zucchini or beans with your neighbor, we make sure that this produce goes to families that need it the most. 

Food wanted not just needed: There are many items that can not be sourced locally or reliably through the pantries or gardens. Additionally, many of these items our community members are unfamiliar with and/or don't fit into their families diet. We fill these gaps in culturally appropriate food with items purchased from local grocery stores.

Season Extension: Our fiscal sponsor and partner, CLiCK, helps us extend the outputs of the growing season by processing bumper crops and products that may not be as desirable when received raw. Some previous projects involved processing garlic scapes into powder, tomatoes into sauce, and summer squash into frozen cubes.

Continuous programming: This project runs 52 weeks of the year.  As long as there is unequal distribution of resources in our community we will strive to improve food security in our town.  As families reach economic security they may elect to stop receiving boxes and we can offer this service to another.


why we're doing it

Eastern CT, comprised loosely of New London and Windham Counties, lies far from the affluence that characterizes the rest of the state. It is an area of contrasts, with multi-cultural, economically-distressed urban areas isolated in the midst of a rural, predominantly white region. 

According to Feeding America, approximately 11.9% of Windham County residents and 17% of Windham County children are currently food insecure.  Of food insecure individuals, approximately 41% would not qualify for federal assistance or SNAP benefits because of reported income.  There are many reasons why people experience hunger, and the current assistance model does not address the inequalities that have been perpetuated by our current food system. 

By offering a combination of local produce and non-perishables in a weekly delivery system we are not only helping families have access to culturally appropriate food, in an atmosphere of dignity and respect, we are also supporting our local food system, farmers and nonprofits who have suffered a great deal the past few years.

While we already have funding secured for some parts of the program, we rely heavily on grants that are limited in scope. With this fundraiser we hope to raise funds to continue supporting our volunteers, staff, farm partners, and local businesses.



Final budget


$300.74 = approximately 75 lbs of local produce for our food pantry

TOTAL RAISED = $310.00
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) N/A
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $9.30

Original budget

Operational Support, weekly budget:

$25 - stock community fridge with supplemental groceries

$420 - Purchase approximately 105lbs of produce from local farms

$250 - Culturally appropriate supplemental groceries

$15 - Produce bags, gloves, sanitary supplies

$120 - $30 shareholder stipends for 4 people

$200 - Community Table coordinator and sourcing salary


ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) N/A
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%)
(Donation processing fee does not apply to match funding.)


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This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


  • First Church of Christ, Scientist, Willimantic
  • Dimitrios P.
  • Kathleen F.
  • Ayesheh N.
  • Judy D.