Foodshare has launched a drive-thru food distribution for the Greater Hartford community amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Monday, April 20, through Friday, April 24, free food will be distributed at Rentschler Field in East Hartford to residents of Hartford and Tolland counties.
A line of cars started forming a couple of hours before food was to be passed out in the parking lot of Rentschler Field. The free food will be distributed in a drive-thru format each day from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
This drive-thru is a supplement to the 250 pantries and 60 or so mobile sites Foodshare always has running in Hartford and Tolland counties.
“They’re people who just four weeks ago were gainfully employed and now through no fault of their own, have found themselves unemployed or not knowing where their next meal is coming from,” said Foodshare’s CEO and President Jason Jakubowski.
Jakubowski says the food bank for Hartford and Tolland Counties had to move this supplemental distribution to Rentschler Field’s parking lot from Hartford Regional Market to accommodate the huge need.
“What we’ve found at these drive-thru distributions like we’re doing today, a lot of these folks are first timers. They are people who have never had to use our services before,” said Jakubowski.
The numbers are tough to stomach.
In just 4 months, he says Foodshare has already spent $200,000. That’s two-thirds of what they spent to buy food for all of last year.
The president of says because of the COVID-19 crisis, they are seeing about a 30-percent increase in the amount of food they’re distributing.
Usually most of their food is donated by the grocery stores, but that’s just not happening right now.
“The tough thing that we’ve been having since the start of this crisis is that we’ve had to purchase food. We never, we rarely, have to purchase food,” said Jakubowski.
Gary Boucher drove from Waterbury to pick up a portion of the more than 35,000 pounds of food available on Monday.
He was emotional speaking to us from a social distance about the hardship his family is experiencing.
“I lost my job in November and my wife lost hers in 2006 because of a car accident and we have a daughter with autism and we could really use some help,” he said.
He and others we spoke to waiting in line were so thankful for the help during this difficult time.
Foodshare’s CEO says thankfully business and locals have been generous, but it’s been a mix of employees, volunteers and donors working nonstop trying to keep up with the need.
“Are you going to be able to keep up with this?,” asked NBC CT’s Caitlin Burchill.
“We plan to. We will not close. I can guarantee that, but we are bringing in a distributing food at an amazingly rapid pace right now,” said Jakubowski.