More than 800 households received free meals in New London Wednesday as food insecurity concerns continue to rise amidst the pandemic.
“The numbers of calls that we are getting around food insecurity are staggering," said Jeanne Milstein, Director of Human Services for the city.
The City of New London partnered with Connecticut Food Bank to host two pop-up distribution sites in the city. Connecticut Food Bank brought enough food for 30,000 meals. More than 60 people volunteered to help distribute food.
According to Connecticut Food Bank, Feeding America projects that food insecurity will rise by 50% in New London County this year. Additionally, 1 in 4 children is expected to be without reliable access to food.
"No child, no person, no senior should ever go hungry," said Milstein.
People who were receiving food Wednesday told NBC Connecticut that things have only gotten more difficult with time, especially as federal pandemic unemployment assistance and a moratorium on evictions end.
“I never thought we were going to get to this level," said Alberto Tavaruz. Tavaruz said he cannot work right now because of the pandemic and health issues. He is concerned about being able to provide for his family.
Erik Gutierrez was at the distribution site Wednesday as well. He used to work at Foxwoods Casino, but has been out of work since March.
"I feel helpless," said Gutierrez. "Not being able to know what to do. I keep applying for other jobs, but you have to wait, you know?”
Milstein said that the city is working to connect anyone who needs help with all available resources. They have created a COVID-19 helpline for anyone to call with questions or concerns over food, housing, medical assistance, and other services. The phone number is 860-941-4355.
Connecticut Food Bank has been averaging about 30 pop-up food distributions across the state per month since the start of the pandemic. They expect to be doing 50 per month by the end of September.