New Milford business gives free food to needy, first responders

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox

NEW MILFORD — After seeing so many people having a tough time due to the coronavirus pandemic, Carrie Lee Bunblasky, acting owner of Tasty Waves Frozen Yogurt & Bagel Cafe on Main Street, had an idea of how to help. She set up a community kindness initiative, where her store offers free baked goods every day to anyone who comes in — no questions asked.

“I initially came up with the idea because we wanted to somehow support our community during this crazy time,” said Lee Bunblasky, of New Milford, who along with her husband Jeremy, has two children, ages 7 and 2. “We know that so many people are struggling during this pandemic, both financially and emotionally.”

While the original idea was to feed those who are hungry, cold or can’t afford the items, she soon realized “everyone needs a little help now and then — maybe they're just having a bad day and need a little joy. We’re using this to spread kindness and recognize people.”

The store is giving out “everything from coffee to bagels with cream cheese and pastries,” she said.

Bunblasky first posted the initiative on Facebook in January, and it was shared more than 70 times and had 13,000 views, she said.

While the initiative first began as a way to help anyone, it has since “morphed into something else,” Bunblasky said. Starting this month, the store is now honoring first responders.

“We've given bagels and coffee to the snow removal crews after a large snowstorm,” she said. “We also had a day where we recognized mental health workers after we were given a donation from someone that had a loved one pass from suicide.”

Teachers were also honored.

“When they come in, they tell us their stories,” Bunblasky said. “I had one mental health worker from a women’s shelter thank us. She said that people in their profession are so often underpaid and underappreciated and that it felt really special to be acknowledged.”

New products

Like other businesses, Tasty Waves had a rough year in 2020. It originally sold self-serve ice cream and frozen yogurt, “with 12 handles with different flavors of frozen yogurt,” said Bunblasky. But due to the pandemic, it was no longer possible to serve customers that way.

“It wasn’t working. I realized last summer, there’s no way to stay open through winter. We would have to reinvent ourselves,” she said.

To stay afloat, the store began selling bread and coffee items, which Bunblasky credits to saving the business.

“We've recently started a bagel shop here selling Bagelman Bagels, pastries from a variety of bakeries direct from New York City, and coffee,” Bunblasky said, adding most of her business now comes from those items.

While the store still also sells soft serve ice cream, it plans to reopen the frozen yogurt component in the spring.

Bunblasky said she plans to keep the community kindness initiative going indefinitely, as well as continue to honor first responders.

“I’m happy that we can provide a little joy and thank these people that are so vital to our community,” she said.

For more on Tasty Waves, visit Tasty Waves Frozen Yogurt & Bagel Cafe New Milford, CT 06776 - Menu, 65 Reviews and Photos - Restaurantji

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