Perishables Saved from Colonial Market Go to Food Pantry
Rev. Ken Peterkin of First Congregational Church in Essex helped a group of volunteers recover perishable food from the suddenly closed Colonial Market, donating the still-fresh items to the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries. (Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Colonial Market in Essex in now gone, but some of the perishable foods have had a second life. After a check on what perishables remained safe and edible, those items that were deemed suitable have been given to the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries.
Following the market’s abrupt closure on Feb. 10, the refrigeration was left on at the market so not all the perishables had spoiled.
Lisa Fasulo, director of the Essex Health Department, began to think about salvaging perishables right after the market’s closing. After some four or five days, she was particularly worried when she had heard nothing from the lessee, Luis Matos, who rents the premises from the owner, Provident Holdings of Guilford.
Meanwhile, Fasulo added, the Essex Facebook page began to have many posts suggesting what to do with the food in the market. The canned goods, it should be noted, which would not be outdated as rapidly as perishables, were not affected.
Reverend Ken Peterkin of the First Congregational Church in Essex saw the posts on the Facebook page and thought of the Shoreline Soup Kitchens. Still, organizing the removal took time.
It was almost two weeks before Fasulo could get a legal order, pursuant to Connecticut’s Public Health Code, to enter and remove perishables.
Peterkin had, in the interim, organized a group of volunteers for the project including Reverends Brett Hertzog-Betkoski of Trinity Lutheran Church in Centerbrook and Reverend Amy Hollis, interim director of the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries.
“Ken Peterkin was terrific, getting the group together, making connections,”“ Fasulo said.
When the group entered the premises, they began to check not only expiration dates on items like milk, eggs, and yogurt, but also temperature with a thermometer Fasulo brought to determine spoilage.
“She checked every single thing,” Peterkin recalled.
The group found many items that were still usable. The refrigeration in the dairy case had protected a variety of items from cheese to cookie dough.
“There were so many eggs that we just couldn’t take them all,” Peterkin said.
Hardy vegetables were still usable like onions, squash, and potatoes. There was also some fruit, apples and oranges that could be salvaged.
In the deli department, the volunteers were able to remove large, unopened loaves of deli meat and cheese.
The group threw out all the unusable frozen food and rotting vegetables—”Things like lettuce and tomatoes,” Fasulo said. “We worked until we got rid of all the perishables,” Peterkin added.
According to Peterkin, the entire operation took about four hours.
Peterkin said that the landlord would like another market to move into the space but that there is no information yet on whether that will happen and what the store would be.