The Rotary Club of Ridgefield was recognized by town leaders in front of Stop and Shop on Oct. 25 for racking up an estimated $500,000 in donated groceries from its monthly food drives.

Social Services Director Tony Phillips said the project, which began in the fall of 2013, only missed two events due to weather or holidays out of 58 food drives.

Phillips recalled how the Rotary Club’s very first food drive yielded more than 200 bags of groceries — so many that social services had to figure out a way to distribute all of them.

The John Metzger, the Rotary Club member who started the project, was already planning another drive for the next month

“I looked at the piles and piles and piles of food, and said ‘please John, no,’” said Philips.

But Metzger kept the drives going anyway.  

That led Philips to create Ridgefield’s pop-up pantries, where the food is given out at Ballard Green’s meeting room, or at South Hall of St. Stephen’s Church.

“We’ve been feeding people half-a-million dollars worth of food ever since,” Phillips said.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi and state Rep. John Frey acknowledged the milestone at the event.

“Rotary Club of Ridgefield, Stop and Shop, and the many volunteers have been an intrical part in keeping Ridgefield’s pop-up pantries in operation since November of 2013,” said Marconi. “Ridgefield’s social services has been able to host over 50 pop-up pantries [and] distribute a tremendous amount of food, while feeding dozens of households each month.”

Frey read from a citation introduced by state Sen. Toni Boucher

“We commend you on your invaluable mission and its continued success,” Frey said.