A lifetime spent in the commercial food industry has attuned Lou Romeo to the plight of the hungry.
And each year, the owner of gives thousands of dollars' worth of food to Rocky Hill’s Food Pantry program and similar programs in nearby towns such as the Cromwell Food Bank and Hartford Food Share.
“I’ve been in the food business all my life, and it bothers me to think that anyone goes to bed hungry at night, but especially children,” Romeo says.
Children’s causes are Romeo’s other philanthropic passion. Along with the substantial contributions he makes toward general hunger and child-hunger-relief efforts, he donates extensively to local groups that provide clothing, toys and school supplies to impoverished kids.
Rocky Hill Human Services Director Mark Williams coordinates with Romeo on his work with the Food Pantry. He calls the businessman’s generosity “staggering.”
“He’s the most giving person I know, and we never have to request anything from him,” Williams says. “He initiates the conversation. He calls me up and asks what we need, and then he gives it to us, both fresh food and non-perishables.
Distinguishing Romeo from the stereotype of the detached philanthropist who occasionally writes out a check and then just as quickly writes it off and forgets about it, Williams calls the store owner “the real deal.”
“This comes from his heart. It’s his life. He does this all year-round,” Williams says.
Romeo performs his most visible charity work at Thanksgiving and Christmas when his store supplies hundreds of turkeys and chickens to the Rocky Hill Housing Authority. Romeo demonstrates the authenticity Williams describes by hand-delivering the holiday birds himself with the help of a few employees.
Romeo also reinforces Williams’ depiction of his ceaseless commitment to the drive against local hunger.
“A lot of people give to those in need around this time of year, but then they forget about them by January,” Romeo says. “That’s when there’s real need — the rest of the year, when people aren’t giving as much. ”
While Romeo recognizes that spotlighting the charitable endeavors of local business leaders like him can motivate others to give more of themselves, he desires no public recognition for his philanthropic labors.
“I make all my donations anonymously. I don’t do this for publicity. I do it to try to help.”