EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The pandemic continues to take its toll on tens of thousands in Connecticut who are struggling to put food on the table. On this day before Thanksgiving, a line of cars snaked through the parking lot at Foodshare’s distribution site at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.
It’s hard to envision what 7 million pounds of food looks like. And that’s what this site has given away since the start of the pandemic.
“This is Connecticut one week before Thanksgiving in the year 2020. We’re the richest state in the union and yet there’s a lot of people dealing with poverty,” said Jason Jakubowski, CEO, Foodshare.
It’s been eight months of lines like this – East Hartford’s Rentschler Field feeding some 200,000 people across Greater Hartford since April.
Dan Lavoie was first in line Wednesday, hours before the site opened, picking up food for friends who don’t drive.
“They can’t get out, so it’s like I deliver to their houses. And I come back if there’s not a long line, I come back again and go to the next person,” said Lavoie.
If these lines are any indication, COVID-19 has increased food insecurity across Connecticut. For Lavioe, the virus has taken much more. His father, Joseph.
“They said that he had it on a Friday and he passed away on a Monday,” said Lavoie.
Foodshare collected more than 20,000 turkeys ahead of Thanksgiving. But you won’t get one there Wednesday. Cars are driving away with 25 pounds of staples to get through the week.
It costs 40,000 to 50,000 dollars a week to operate. Donations and a group of 30 core volunteers are key these lines moving.
“It hasn’t been easy but they’re warriors and we wouldn’t have been able to distribute 7 million pounds of food without that many volunteers,” said Jakubowski.
But real winter is under a month away. Foodshare CEO Jason Jakubowski fears needs will only increase.
“We can only expect if there’s a second wave and if there’s continued shut downs and economic impacts, that it’s going to have an increased impact on what we’re doing,” said Jakubowski.
Foodshare’s CEO tells News 8 that they will not be able to sustain this through the winter months, so he’s encouraging people who are dealing with food insecurity to connect with their local food pantries.
The distribution will continue in December, two days a week. Food distribution will be on Tuesday and Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. to noon. They will be closed Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
The last scheduled distribution is Tuesday, Dec. 22.
Community members can access help through the following:
- Mobile Foodshare an outdoor pantry-on-wheels, to find a site near you please text “FOODSHARE” to 85511 or go to www.foodshare.org/mobile.
- To find a food pantry and other resources near you, call 2-1-1 or go to www.211ct.org.
If you are interested in volunteering or would like to donate to help Foodshare continue to serve our neighbors, visit www.foodshare.org.