EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– There is an overwhelming demand for food assistance right now in Connecticut so Foodshare is extending its drive-thru food distribution on weekdays at Rentschler Field for the next two weeks.
It’s clear there won’t be any sports events taking place inside Rentschler Field in the immediate future. For the next two weeks on weekdays, it will be a site where people struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic can drive up and pick up food.
Hartford and Tolland counties’ food bank, Foodshare, has seen a 30 percent increase in demand since the pandemic hit.
“This is probably one of the largest parking lots in central Connecticut and as you can see from the line behind me, we’re going to need it. There’s a lot of people in line. There’s a lot of need,” said Jason Jakubowski, President & CEO, Foodshare.
Hundreds of cars waited in line at East Hartford’s Rentschler Field on Monday morning, the first day this parking lot turned into a food distribution site.
“Since the start of our distribution this past Monday we have served an average of nearly 1,000 cars per day,” said Jakubowski. “We have seen first-hand that our neighbors need our help, and for that reason we have made the decision to extend this food distribution so that no one in our community goes hungry.”
Governor Ned Lamont and Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz joined the effort.
Several weeks ago Foodshare started distributing 90,000 pounds of produce out of Hartford’s regional market. But they’ve outgrown that site.
Before the pandemic hit Foodshare says 118,000 Connecticut residents that didn’t have enough to eat. It’s unclear what those numbers would be today.
“I don’t think anybody has had the opportunity to collect data over the last couple of weeks,” said Jakubowski.
4-CT, the Covid-19 charity launched by Governor Lamont donated one million to Foodshare.
“If people can just keep their social distance a little longer and take it seriously, we’ll be beyond the pandemic a lot faster,” said Lamont.
But questions of how long the pandemic will last and how to keep up with an increasing demand…
“I’m very concerned. It’s all I think about,” said Jakubowski.
And this site will be open at Rentschler Field at 615 Silver Lane, East Hartford, CT.
Foodshare will reassess the program in two weeks to determine if another extension is needed.
“Our decisions are driven first and foremost by need; and assuming the need continues to exist, we will run this program as long as we have enough food and volunteers, and as long as the state will have us at Rentschler,” said Jakubowski.
Distribution dates: Monday, April 27 through Friday, May 1; Monday, May 4 through Friday, May 8.