After providing food to people for decades, a New Haven nonprofit organization needs the community’s help to continue operating.
FISH, Food In Service to the Homebound, has delivered food to homebound food-insecure families in New Haven, West Haven, East Haven and Hamden since 1968. But over the last two years, the need has grown. FISH went from serving approximately 450 households a month to 900 households. The nonprofit was forced to find a larger space to store and package the food, which drove up the operating costs.
“Moving here we had to hire more staff, more volunteers to help. Our operating expenses went up. Right now, just to run the program, the amount of brown paper bags that we go through in a week and the prices that have gone up is just incredible," said Jill Meyerhoff, the executive director of FISH. "So the other thing that happened too is during the COVID crisis we were getting a lot of COVID funding because of it and there were so many people that were also making private donations because of it. All of a sudden, 2022 hit and that money started to deteriorate."
Now the staff has been trying to find ways to raise money to stay open and operational.
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“We’re the only nonprofit in New Haven that delivers groceries to people’s homes. And these are people that are homebound. These are veterans that served our country, these are elderly people, these are people that are disabled and they don’t have anywhere else to go and any other outlet to get food,” said Meyerhoff.
They started a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $50,000 to pay for the additional operating costs, as everything from rent to electric to the costs of a brown paper bag has increased. A pack of 500 paper bags used to cost about $45 to $50. Now it is up to $73 a pack.
“We go through five of those packs, so 500 bags times five, that’s 2,500 bags a week so our bags are costing us over $1,000 (a month) right now,” said Meyerhoff.
FISH has been getting donations from community organizations and nonprofits. Connecticut Foodshare plans to give FISH a grant award of $15,000 later this week. That is also where FISH gets their food from to feed everyone.
FISH also plans to merge with New Reach, another community organization that helps the homeless, by January of 2023.
The staff at FISH said they are hopeful that these steps, combined with community donations, will help them continue to operate.
“The more that we can work together to help feed the community and take care of the community, the better that we’re all going to be,” said Meyerhoff.