BRANFORD, CT (WFSB) -- Day six of the Stop and Shop strike and both sides are still without a deal.
But as the company and union continue to negotiate, the food that’s no longer flying off the shelves is finding a new home and heading to local food pantries.
In Branford on Tuesday morning, volunteers visited the local food pantry with a donation of food.
The Branford Food Pantry said they have been getting food since this weekend.
While they don’t like to see the strike, they said they’ll gladly take it because they know just how much is needed.
“We’re getting a lot of pastries, a lot of bread. We’re also getting meat, fish, some produce,” said Wendy Cowles of the Branford Food Pantry.
The food pantry helps about 500 people a month in town, and while the volunteers are sympathetic to the striking workers, at the same time they’re grateful the company reached out to its food bank partners and local pantries so the food sitting in their stores would not go to waste.
“Unfortunately they are on strike, but fortunately for us, they called us Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to come pick up food from them and we have picked up a ton of food. It saved us a whole lot of money,” Cowles said.
Pantry volunteer Bob Burns has been running back and forth to pick up the food from the Stop and Shop in town.
“Since the strike, I’ve probably made seven trips with full loads of meat, bread, muffins, dessert, everything you could need,” Burns said.
He said knowing where the food was heading, the striking workers were the ones who helped load up the truck.
“When I went there to pick it up, I was nervous about crossing a picket line. When they knew why I was there, everyone stepped up, helped me load the truck. Everyone was helpful, it was really nice,” Burns said.
In a statement, the Connecticut Food Bank said “We will work with stores individually to arrange salvage and work with representatives of the unions representing workers so that safety and respect for the process are maintained. Donated food is a vital means of helping us fulfill our mission to provide nutritious food to people in need.”
Now that's not the only food being donated. Plenty of folks are stopping by the picket lines to offer their support to workers.
Public offers support to Stop & Shop employees
While both sides continue to negotiate, unions are working to make sure those on the picket, who could find themselves without a paycheck, get help if they need it.
Not only are plenty of people refusing to cross the picket line, a number are also stopping by and lending their support by dropping off food and drinks.
“They drop off countless boxes of Joe, coffee, doughnuts, pizza, sandwiches, we had the Rib House donate, just so many businesses and we’re greatly appreciated for everything they’ve bought,” said Frank Daniele, a grocery manager at Stop & Shop.
Without a contract since February, more than 30,000 workers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island walked off the job last Thursday.
The biggest issue between the union and the company, continues to be over pensions and health benefits, which Stop and Shop argues are some of the best in New England when it comes to grocery stores.
If the strike continues, organized labor is already making plans in case workers need assistance.
“We have a full-service food pantry in Hartford at 22 Orange St. to provide services, we also have an office in Middletown and one in Waterbury,” said Amy Blackwood, executive director of the John J. Driscoll United Labor Agency. “We’re happy to help the strikers. We’ve already had over 30 calls today, several drop ins at our food pantry.”
For now, Frank said they’re staying strong, hoping to get back to work soon.
“The unions have set up a website to go to a food pantry if need be, but with everybody here, they’re going to support themselves right now, we’re going to dig in and fight this,” Daniele said.
In a video posted to YouTube Thursday morning, Local 919’s president thanked his members, encouraging them to stay strong, saying he’d have another message later tonight, hoping that it might contain “good news.”