Grants from Connecticut Food Bank/Foodshare Help Community Food Programs Meet Needs Caused by COVID Pandemic
Wallingford, Conn., April 22, 2021 – Nearly $500,000 in grants were awarded from Connecticut Food Bank/Foodshare to 260 partner organizations across Connecticut, helping community-based food programs meet needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants provide agencies with funds to purchase supplies and equipment to support ongoing food distributions to meet the increased demand for food and safety protocols.
Connecticut Food Bank/Foodshare President and CEO, Jason Jakubowski, said the grants have been put to immediate use by food pantries and meal programs that are purchasing food safety and food handling supplies and equipment to help keep operations running smoothly. “The past year has challenged communities like never before,” said Jakubowski. “The need for food assistance jumped significantly, and the dedicated network of partner food programs in our state faced unprecedented hurdles caused by safety concerns and lack of resources.”
Jakubowski said the grants from the food bank were possible because of strong community support for food assistance during the pandemic.
The 260 organizations receiving grants have begun reporting on how they used the funds. “Our network partners have been resourceful in using the money for maximum impact,” Jakubowski said.
The St. Anne’s Pantry at Christ the Bread of Life Parish in Hamden used the $500 grant to purchase a food freezer from their local Home Depot store. Home Depot donated the nearly $400 balance to the pantry.
Meals for Neighbors, operating through Zion Lutheran Church in Bristol, used its grant to purchase a utility cart and signage for outdoor food distributions. Director Van Monak Chhun noted that the grant was especially appreciated because it helped the program focus on providing food. “As a small program with limited resources, it is difficult for us to spend money on equipment when money can be used towards food for the community and on essential expenses such as lights, water, etc.,” Chhun said, noting that the grant resolved that dilemma.
Jakubowski said the demand for food across the state remains high as families struggle to meet basic needs. For many households, a return to pre-pandemic work is still not possible, and many people are struggling with debt from the past year of the shutdown. “We know that people continue to need our help,” he said. “We continue to respond by providing food through the food banks community network of pantries, meal programs, and mobile sites, as well as helping our partners meet the unique challenges presented by the pandemic.”
Connecticut Food Bank / Foodshare is the food bank of Connecticut and a member of the national Feeding America network. We provide nearly 40 million meals each year through a network of more than 700 community-based hunger relief programs, including food pantries, community kitchens, emergency shelters, mobile distribution sites, and more, while also working on long-term solutions. More than 8,000 volunteers help power the work of the food bank. Last year, they gave more than 62,000 hours of service.
In Connecticut, food insecurity was estimated to increase by an alarming 28% in 2020 because of the pandemic, for a total of 545,000 people (1 in 7 people), including 164,000 children (1 in 4 children), across Connecticut who are at risk of hunger.