In Connecticut, more than 400,000 people struggle to put food on the table.
The issue of food insecurity is exacerbated by inflation, increasing the cost of groceries and putting a strain on food banks nationwide.
"We are definitely seeing an uptick in our pantries and at our mobile lines. There is definitely more of a need right now,” said Jason Jakubowski, CEO of Connecticut Food Share.
Jakubowski leads Connecticut’s only state-wide food bank with locations in Bloomfield, Wallingford and Bridgeport. He said one in seven people and usually one in four children in the state have very limited access to food.
Recent price increases have added an extra barrier. According to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of poultry, milk and eggs has increased by more than 14% in the last year.
"It's hurting the consumer and hurting businesses like ours in terms of how much we're able to purchase,” Jakubowski said.
It’s also shrinking the size of donations from grocery stores. Recipients may also notice a limited variety of food in their boxes. Due to supply-chain challenges, Jakubowski said he couldn’t source pasta or white rice three weeks ago.
Inflation has also made it difficult for Connecticut Foodshare to source meat and chicken. But thanks to a local grocery store and volunteers on Friday, it was sorted and packaged for distribution next week.
Connecticut Foodshare supplies nearly 700 partner agencies throughout the state, including churches, shelters and soup kitchens. Bible Way Temple Nation in Hartford is one of those sites. Every other Friday, people can take what they need.
"That has really been a blessing for me and my family,” said Tiandra Jewell of Hartford.
Jewell is a single mother of two daughters, ages eight and 13. She said she often comes by the church to ensure there's enough food for her family at home. On Friday, she filled a bag with their favorite snacks and home essentials.
"For me, it's been pretty tough, as I'm sure for a lot of families. The prices are high. You know, a lot of us might be on assistance with the state, you know, food stamps, stuff like that. I don't even think that that's helping many families get through,” Jewell said.
Those in Hartford and beyond can participate in Connecticut Foodshare’s Walk Against Hunger at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 21. The mile and a half route starts and ends at Dunkin' Donuts Park.
"It's a great opportunity to come together as a community and physically, publicly demonstrate our commitment to fighting hunger," Jewell said.
Jakubowski said Connecticut Foodshare is always in need of more volunteers.
"We have about 115 employees and about 4,000 volunteers. The amount of volunteer hours people spend every year is the equivalent of 31 additional staff members. We're a non-profit, we don't have the money to hire 31 additional people, so we are very heavily reliant on our volunteers," Jakubowski said.
For more information on the Walk Against Hunger or to donate and/or volunteer, click here.
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