By Josh LaBella
The West Haven Emergency Assistance Taskforce, also known as WHEAT, is looking for donations so they can purchase foldable shopping carts for certain community members they serve.
The shopping carts cost $35. Checks can be made out to “WHEAT Shopping Carts” and mailed to 674 Washington Ave., West Haven, CT 06516.
They can also be handed to Teddi McKenna, a WHEAT board member who is authorized to solicit funds on their behalf. WHEAT is a non-profit 501c3 and donations to it are tax deductible.
According to WHEAT Director Rose Majestic, about 40 percent of those they serve are elderly or disabled people. She said the percentage has grown over the past year or so.
“We are seeing more and more elderly people,” said Majestic. “Elderly people with canes, walkers and wheelchairs. They are either walking or taking the bus and they are just not able to carry the canvas bags that we give them.”
Majestic said the food bank gives out up to 50 lbs. of food per person and that many have had to decline to take their full amount due to an inability to carry it all. She said out of the aforementioned 40 percent, at least half of them are walking to WHEAT.
“We thought about the folding carts because we see other people come in with the folding grocery carts,” said Majestic. “They just put the bags in there and it makes their lives a lot easier trying to get home.”
The Director said they would give out the carts on a case-by-case basis. She said she and the employees and volunteers at WHEAT get to know the people they serve pretty well and are aware of who needs a cart.
“We know who has trouble walking or with balance,” she said. “Even trying to lift those bags onto a bus is really hard for these people who are so frail.”
Majestic said there have been incidents where people have fallen and an ambulance had to be called.
“It’s all because they are trying to carry the food that they are entitled to,” said Majestic. “It’s putting them at risk.”
More elderly people and single adults are coming to WHEAT for assistance, said Majestic. She added that many of these people are on fixed incomes and are having to keep up with rising food costs while receiving less financial support from the state and federal government.
“They don’t have support systems… I think that is important to point out,” she said. “The majority of people coming in do not have support systems like family, a neighbor or a friend who can bring them down.”