We recently met Barbara, who is well into her 80s and relies on our Mobile Food Pantry distribution each month in Southbury. She’s never needed food-assistance until her retirement savings ran out. She lives alone and is collecting Social Security, and finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with her expenses. “I’m not too proud to come here for food because I’m running behind on things,” she told us during her second month in a row visiting the Mobile Pantry. “After I pay for utilities, medicine and my other monthly expenses, there’s not much left for food.”
While people like Barbara are facing the everyday challenge of paying for housing, utilities, healthcare or food, many food banks across the country are facing a challenge of their own. The supply of donated nonperishable food is shrinking. The items being made available to soup kitchens and food pantries are changing to more fresh produce, frozen or refrigerated items.
Just-in-time production and the secondary market means far fewer nonperishable items are being donated by food manufacturers. In addition, delivery of U.S.D.A. commodities is down 45 percent over the previous year. We can no longer rely on delivery of donated shelf-stable products on an ongoing basis.
Connecticut Food Bank is buying more food than at any other time in our history. We are exploring ways to maximize effectiveness, while meeting the most critical needs. Increased demand created by rising prices, high unemployment and underemployment, cuts in social services and two recent natural disasters are adding up to stress and strain for recipients and those helping them. It is especially difficult during the winter when heating costs are rising. It’s a “perfect storm” that’s affecting our ability to fulfill the need.
We encourage you to visit the How to Help tab on www.ctfoodbank.org to learn how you can help our mission to alleviate hunger in Connecticut. To learn more about Connecticut Food Bank, you can download a copy of the 2012 Winter/Spring Issue of Connecticut Food News.