1 in 5 Children are Hungry in the United States.
To Ensure That Everyone Has Enough To Eat
For almost 50 years WHEAT, Inc. has been providing food, personal care items, advocacy and support to those in our community suffering from food insecurity. Based on the belief that access to good quality nutritious food is a basic human right and social justice issue, WHEAT was founded in 1975 by the West Haven Clergy Association as a central place where residents in crisis could obtain food.
In 1987 WHEAT incorporated as a private nonprofit with the mission to provide emergency food assistance to anyone who may not have enough to eat. Since that time WHEAT has continued to grow and thrive, now distributing over 200,000 pounds of food each year to almost 2,000 people from all over Connecticut.
WHEAT is truly a product of our community, with a deep network of community partners and collaborators that has been developed over the decades. With a full-time executive director and three part-time staff, WHEAT is primarily a volunteer organization with a volunteer Board of Directors and a team of 25 volunteers responsible for the majority of our service delivery. Our agency is able to exist and thrive based on the donations of food, funds and time from individuals, faith communities, as well as public and private entities located in Greater New Haven and throughout Connecticut.
Message From The New Executive Director
To Our Guests, Friends, and Supporters
I've had the pleasure to meet and speak to many of you already, but to those I haven't met yet it is my honor to introduce myself as the new Executive Director of WHEAT, Inc! I'm a psychotherapist by training with a long history of working in nonprofits and after years of working in behavioral health I am so excited to make this transition and join the fight against food insecurity.
One of my highest priorities is making sure that the experiences of our guests are as positive as possible so that anyone who needs our services feels safe and comfortable walking through our doors. This means ensuring that guests will be served in a pleasant and welcoming environment, met with warmth and empathy, and will have easy access to our services. With that in mind, you may have noticed we have made some big changes at WHEAT!
To make our services as accessible as possible, we are still open 3 days a week and guests can come twice a month to receive food, but in an effort to align our services with best practices, WHEAT has now moved to a full client choice model. Guests no longer receive pre-packed bags of groceries, but can now select the items that they prefer directly from our shelves in our new "shopping area". The benefits of this system are numerous, but most importantly it creates a more dignified and respectful service environment and ensures that our guests receive the items that they and their families need, enjoy, and will use.
Just as importantly, we have made it much easier to access our services by streamlining our intake process and eliminating unnecessary barriers to service. Guests are no longer required to bring ID, pieces of mail, or any other proof of residency or income. We have reduced the intake process for new guests to under 5 minutes and the check-in process for returning guests is done right at reception. We are still working to make improvements to our operations, but the goal is to make the process as quick and simple for our guests.
The last thing I'd like to highlight is that as the number of our Spanish speaking guests continues to increase, we now have Spanish speaking volunteers available to assist guests during all our food distribution hours. Unfortunately, language barriers can often impact someone's ability to receive or make the most of an available service. WHEAT wants to make sure that as much as possible guests can be served in their preferred language and having bilingual volunteers available to our guests was a high priority for us.
Finally, and most importantly, I want to acknowledge WHEAT's outgoing Executive Director, Rose Majestic. Rose served WHEAT faithfully for 17 years and is now enjoying a much earned retirement. Under Rose's stewardship WHEAT experienced remarkable growth and cemented itself as a West Haven institution at the heart of fighting food insecurity. As more than one person remarked to me, Rose was WHEAT. She increased donor giving, developed a strong network of community supporters, advocated passionately, and acted as the face of the organization with poise and dignity. Maybe nothing speaks to Rose's leadership better than her ability to steer WHEAT through the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that WHEAT stayed open and available to guests, so that in the most dire of situations those in need were still able to receive the food they needed. When I first began at WHEAT Rose welcomed me with open arms and generously allowed me to learn and benefit from her years of experience. It is my goal to continue to build on the foundation that she laid.
From all of us, Rose, thank you!
Michael Savenelli, Executive Director