NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – The pandemic and high inflation have been a one-two punch to the state’s food charities. Now, a new food insecurity task force is looking to help get more food from supermarkets into food banks and pantries.

“Let’s have a meeting of the minds and let’s figure out ways we can reduce food waste,” said Jason Jakubowski, the president and CEO of Connecticut Foodshare.

Jakubowski is also a member of the task force. He told the rest of the panel that, pre-pandemic, 75% of the food it received was donated. During the pandemic, the need for food skyrocketed, to the point that Foodshare had to take over the UConn football stadium to handle the demand.

“Post-pandemic, we’ve had to purchase significant amounts of food,” Jakubowski said. “We know that continuing to purchase food at the rate that we are is not sustainable.”

A lot more people are back to work now versus at the beginning of the pandemic, but there is a new problem — inflation. A recent study of the people Foodshare serves shows that 63% of them recently had to choose between buying food and paying rent, and 73% had to choose between food and paying their utility bills. With high inflation, all of those things now cost more.

The solution is to get supermarkets to donate more food, especially food that would probably be thrown away, anyway. That requires coordination, so the state is providing $10 million to help food pantries store and distribute that food.

“If we’re going to be asking supermarkets to donate more, we also want to make sure that the structure is there to handle it, and who is going to handle it,” task force co-chair State Rep. Dorinda Borer (D-West Haven) said. “So, that’s how we created the task force.”

That, and the fact that 425,000 households in Connecticut don’t always know where their next meal will come from.