The emergency food distribution center at Rentschler Field began operations April 20 of last year. Now, nearly a year later, it continues to play a large role in the fight against food insecurity.
Streaming through the Rentschler field parking lot, lines at this food distribution have sometime been long. But worth waiting in, for those in need.
“I’d come here, and I’d see the line is really, really long but I don’t mind. I will stay here all night if I have to,” said Hartford’s Esther Simmons.
Since April, Foodshare estimates it has distributed 8.5 million pounds of food at the East Hartford location. Helping people like Zeta Bentum, who lost her job during the pandemic.
“If I went to the grocery store, I would spend about $60 to get what I get in that box. So, it’s a big help to me and my family,” said Bentum.
At its peak, Rentschler served 2,800 cars in one day. On Tuesday of this week it was 1,900. Things have improved but organizers say there’s still a need.
“We see a lot of new faces,” said Foodshare logistics manager, Dom Piccini. “They either lost their jobs later or they’ve run out of all their savings and what they’ve been using to survive to this point.”
Connecticut Foodbank & Foodshare President Jason Jakubowski says there are still 545,000 people in Connecticut who are food insecure.
“We’re not too far off from where we were at the height of the pandemic,” Jakubowski said.
With that, there continues to be a need for places like Rentschler. However, with the state reopening the stadium could soon return to normal use. Jakubowski though, reassures people food distribution will not stop.
“We will absolutely continue with our mobile distribution and we have our partner agencies. There are about 700 of them around the state,” explained Jakubowski.
Organizers say that Thursday, they were expecting to reach the quarter million mark, in terms of number of cars they have packed at Rentschler Field.