South Windsor boy starts nonprofit building little food pantries to ease ongoing food insecurity issue magnified by pandemic

Hunger Action Month

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – The pandemic has heightened disparities and food insecurity is certainly one of them.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, one South Windsor kid has been on a mission to feed the hungry, one “free little pantry” at a time.

News 8’s Samaia Hernandez takes us to Hartford as part of our series highlighting the ongoing issue of food insecurity.

Tiernan Cabod is 13-years-old and the brains behind a local nonprofit building little pantries. It’s an idea that blossomed after a chat he had with a homeless man when Tiernan was 9-years-old.

“I didn’t want for one more second not to do something about it because I can’t imagine being in that position, and I hope in the future no one has to be,” he said.

Not having anything to eat is different than not having enough to eat. Food insecurity remains an issue post-pandemic. Foodshare and Hartford and Tolland county’s food bank, estimates one in nine people are at risk for hunger, and since March 2020, Tiernan’s project, Hartford Bags of Love, has built and installed 29 little pantries across greater Hartford.

“We raise funds, we have the materials, we build them, and we set them with someone who’s going to take care of them,” Tiernan explained.

Joanna Iovino is taking care of the latest two pantries in Hartford’s north end.

“There’s kind of an informal network of people who go to the food pantries and go to the Foodshare trucks, and have always brought stuff home for our neighbors and this is just kind of a more formal version of it,” Iovino said.

A pantry went up in April on Garden and Mather streets. The latest is outside of Unity Plaza on Barbour Street. The grand opening sign is still there.

Several supermarkets have moved into Unity Plaza, but didn’t last long, contributing to the problem of food insecurity in Hartford’s north end.

“We want fresh vegetables, and we want rice and beans and stuff like that, and that’s not accessible at times,” Iovino said.

If you come across a free little pantry, the motto is the same: give what you can, take what you need. More people and organizations are needed to help manage supply throughout the winter.

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