Today marks final day of food distribution site at Rentschler Field but fight against food insecurity continues

Hartford

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Emergency food operations can’t last forever. And the home of the Huskies has to go back to the Huskies. But what happens to everyone who’s been coming here for food?

For a year, nearly 300,000 cars waited in long lines for free food but Thursday marks the final day of the food distribution site at East Hartford’s Rentschler Field. 7.8 million meals over 54 weeks. Now Rentschler Field has to go back to the Huskies.

Related: Demand continues at food distribution site at Rentschler Field as COVID-19 pandemic passes one-year mark

Jason Jakubowski looked out at 19 long rows of cars moments before they rolled through East Hartford’s home of UConn football…

“It’s a little bittersweet because a lot of these volunteers have become a family out here over the last year,” said Jakubowski. “At the same time, it’s a good thing. Rentschler Field should be used for events.”

For more than a year, dozens of volunteers turned up at times when the rest of the state was shut down placing some 9.4 million pounds of food in car trunks. This pandemic food distribution site has only been possible due to monthly donations.

“Thankfully, there’s been a lot of great organizations who have donated to us. A lot of corporations have donated to us. A lot of philanthropic organizations. But most of all, individual donors out there in Connecticut,” said Jakubowski.

Related: Foodshare, CT Food Bank continuing statewide drive-thru food distributions in April

On busy weeks it can cost $50,000 a day to pull this off. Volunteers were overcome with emotion Thursday as the site operated for its final day.

“I’ve been here since day two. April 22nd of last year,” said Michelle Velesky, Volunteer, Bolton.

These volunteers have become like family.

“It gave me some social outlet while so many other people were stuck inside. So that was a plus. But the need… just car after car after car. It’s overwhelming at times,” said Velesky.

Foodshare will operate other distribution sites through May.

“We have 700 pantries out there across the state. We have 100 mobile sites across the State of Connecticut,” said Jakubowski.

If you’ve been coming here and you’re wondering where to go now, one of the best things to do is call 2-1-1 and they’ll connect you with resources.

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