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CT Food Bank Shelves Dwindling

By Liz Mitchell (Westport Patch, 6/17/10)

  JUNE 18, 2010 --

Connecticut Food Bank is pleading for help to keep its warehouses stocked with food as the summer months approach. The Food Bank has seen its food supply dwindle in the last few weeks as donations drop and the demand for food assistance continues to remain high.

Connecticut Food Bank is running a special "virtual food drive" on its website, www.ctfoodbank.org, to try to raise much-needed funds to purchase additional food this summer to feed men, women and children in need.

"Contrary to what many people may think, the highest demand for food is in the summer," Nancy L. Carrington, Connecticut Food Bank's Chief Executive Officer, said in a news release. "More families will be turning to soup kitchens and food pantries for assistance because they don't have enough money to buy the food they need for their children. A family with two children will have to come up with more than 200 extra meals during the summer vacation when they don't have access to school meals - and that's an extremely difficult situation to face for most low-income families."

Connecticut Food Bank, the largest centralized source of emergency food in Connecticut, serves 650 food-assistance programs, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and low-income child and adult day programs in six of Connecticut's eight counties: Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London and Windham. Since its incorporation in 1982 as the state's first regional food bank, Connecticut Food Bank has distributed more than 200 million pounds of food to people in need.

Last summer, Connecticut Food Bank's food supply was buoyed by a one-time $593,000 federal allocation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). The dollars, coming through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the federal stimulus funds, enabled Connecticut Food Bank to get 14 extra tractor trailer loads of food for the food-assistance network in Connecticut. That one-time allocation, however, is not available to the Food Bank this year.

"Unfortunately, the people who were hurting from the recession last year who were helped by the federal stimulus bill are still hurting this year," Carrington continued. "They are still depending on us and our network of food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters for help. And they are coming from small towns, suburbs and cities."

In Connecticut, one in seven households struggled with hunger in 2009, according to the Food Research and Action Center.

Fifty-five percent of the people served by the Food Bank's food pantry network come from suburban or small towns, while 45 percent come from urban communities.

The summer is also when food manufacturers and distributors scale down their operations to accommodate employee vacations and limited productions. Additionally, Connecticut Food Bank has seen the amount of private food donations drop from year to year.

"This recession has impacted our business community and in turn it has impacted their giving capabilities," Carrington said. "We have never fully met the need even before the current economic downturn and last year our food-assistance programs reported an average 30 percent increase in demand for their services."

Through the years, Connecticut Food Bank has had to gradually increase the amount of food it purchases in order to meet the need for food assistance in the state. Connecticut Food Bank, part of a national network of food banks, buys certain food items to supplement donations to ensure food-assistance programs have access to nutritious food for their recipients.

For more information, visit www.ctfoodbank.org or call (203) 469-5000.



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