Volunteer Steps Up at Foodshare's Drive-Thru Distribution Amid ‘Mind Boggling' Need for Food

NBC Universal, Inc.

Foodshare's drive-thru distribution at Rentschler Field in East Hartford was set up nearly a year ago to be a two week emergency food distribution. Nearly a year later, thousands of cars still line up every Tuesday and Thursday as Connecticut families wrestle with food insecurity

Retired Newington teacher, Terri Buganski, has been at the site volunteering since the very beginning last April. "We were here five days a week, then four days a week, three days a week, but never did we think it would go this long," the Rocky Hill resident said.

FoodShare has launched the annual Turkey and 30 campaign to help put food on the table for Connecticut families. It looks a bit different this year due to the pandemic.

At this point, it's been going on long enough that the crew of volunteers have become close friends.

Buganski said they didn't know one another when the drive-thru first started and they never expected to be returning to East Hartford for this long.

"On the one hand, it's sad," she said, "because we have to keep going, but on the other side, it's really cool that we have to keep going because I get to see these people. They're like my family."

Foodshare is distributing food each morning through Friday at Rentschler Field for residents from Hartford and Tolland counties.

Foodshare is shining a spotlight on Buganski's extraordinary dedication. She has logged more than 650 hours loading and directing cars at Rentschler Field, missing only one day for a medical appointment.

Foodshare has restarted emergency food distribution at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. The have added domes with heaters inside for the winter months.

CEO and President Jason Jakubowski calls the continuing need for food assistance in Connecticut "mind boggling" and said their distribution of 8 million pounds of food would not be possible without the generous work of Terri and the entire volunteer team.

"She's been with us through the snow, she's been through ridiculous rain storms, she's been through the 100 degree days during the summer and now we're back to snow and ice again," Jakubowski said.

Jakubowski also said the monetary donations still coming in from individuals, businesses, and large corporations is incredible and is a key piece of this safety net.

As Foodshare’s supplemental operation at Rentschler Field nears the end of it’s fourth week, the need for food in Connecticut continues.

Buganski, meantime, said being part of a community and the opportunity to make a difference right now make all the hours on the front lines worth it.

"You know, we're helping and we can't solve all the problems of the world, but at least we're doing a little bit," she said.

If you'd like do donate your time or money, NBC Connecticut's Feeding Our Families virtual food drive continues.

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