As a child, I remember my mother saying, “Eat all your food on your plate. There are starving children in Africa!”
Unfortunately, there are many hungry people in our own country and the state of Connecticut. The numbers are actually staggering. According to the Connecticut Food Bank, there are more than 400,000 people at risk of hunger every year. These people include children, working parents, seniors and people with disabilities.
Mary Ingarra, communications director of the Connecticut Food Bank, said “more than half, 52 percent, of the people don’t qualify for federal assistance, that is where Connecticut Food Bank comes in. These people don’t always know where their next meal is coming from.”
Connecticut Food Bank tries to reach everyone in need through 650 community-based food programs, such as soup kitchens, food pantries and shelters. The organization distributes about 31 tons of food every business day and, last year, distributed almost 15 million pounds of food to people in need in six of the state’s eight counties.
Prior to the recession a survey of food pantry and soup kitchen clients in Connecticut revealed that:
- 42 percent had to choose between food or utilities.
- 34 percent had to choose between food or rent.
- 30 percent had to choose between food or medical care.
Even in a state as wealthy as Connecticut, there is a huge need for food assistance in every community. Sometimes the difference between a family who uses a food program and one that doesn’t is the sudden loss of a job, an illness, or unexpected rise in health or utilities bills.
It is unbelievable that people in our own state are going hungry but our government continues to send large sums of money to other countries to assist them when we need assistance right here!
How can we let our people go hungry? I posed this question to state Rep. Richard A. Smith, R-New Fairfield, to which he responded, “While I applaud the efforts of our Federal Government to assist others in foreign countries, I believe we must first take care of our own citizens before sending our tax dollars overseas. No one should go hungry in a country as wealthy as ours, yet, in Connecticut alone, we have over 400,000 men, women and children who are at risk to go hungry every year. They should not have to choose between paying for medical care or food and our government needs to do a better job of making sure they do not have to make that choice by keeping our funds here at home."
What can you do? The Connecticut Food Bank has a few suggestions:
- Donate food at a food drive or local food program.
- Plan a food drive any time of year to benefit a local program.
- Shop during 2-for-1 sales and donate the second can/box of food to your local food pantry.
- Plant an extra row of produce in your garden and donate that bounty to a food bank.
- Donate unused prepared food from weddings & parties to a local soup kitchen or shelter.
- Donate money using cash, a check, or a credit card.
- Contribute money in memory or honor of friends & loved ones.
- Collect donations of funds or food for a charity instead of gifts for birthdays, weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, etc.
- Ask your company to match your donation to a food bank or charity.
- Transfer stocks or securities to a charity and gain a tax break.
- Plan a fundraiser for a local program – funds are essential to keep programs running.
- Include Connecticut Food Bank or other food charity in your estate planning.
- Volunteer at Connecticut Food Bank or special events such as Walk against Hunger or Thanksgiving for All.
- Volunteer your time and energy at a local soup kitchen, shelter or food bank.
The Connecticut Food Bank
56 Eagle Street, Waterbury, CT 06708
Phone: (203) 759-1919
Fax: (203) 759-1921
Regular Warehouse Hours: Mon - Fri: 7 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Volunteer Hours: Tues - Fri: 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Special arrangements can be made for groups to volunteer on Saturdays.
*NOTE: The Waterbury Branch Warehouse is closed the third Monday of every month.
While we all our sitting down to our own Thanksgiving dinners, we should remember those who will be going without and include them in our thoughts and blessings.