Foodshare, CT Food Bank asking USDA to send more food amid coronavirus unemployment crisis


(WTNH) — As more people are losing their jobs during the coronavirus outbreak, more families are in need of food assistance. And the need is growing daily.

RELATED: ‘Stay home, stay safe’: Gov. Lamont advises all non-essential businesses to close, residents to stay home

In the last few weeks, the State’s response to the health crisis surrounding the highly-contagious COVID-19 has changed as fast as the crisis itself. Last week, Governor Ned Lamont shut down all non-essential businesses during the crisis to implement social-distancing and prevent the spread.

Because of that, thousands and thousands of CT residents are now out of work and in need of food assistance.

RELATED: Coronavirus closes businesses: Thousands per day applying for unemployment, CT Department of Labor says

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal visited Foodshare in Windsor last week. Officials there are pushing the federal government to send more food. During this COVID 19 pandemic the need for more food is vital to their mission. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture hasn’t said when it’s sending more to outlets like Foodshare where shelves are getting bare.

“We are about seven days into this thing and we don’t know when the next TEFAP delivery will come and how much will be on it,” Jason Jakubowski of Foodshare.

Jakubowski is talking about federal emergency food assistance. Foodshare serves three hundred food pantries statewide and has seventy mobile sites. Nearly 15% of their product comes from the federal government. Farmers are paid to produce food like peanut butter and rice.

Jakubowski says for every meal that Foodshare can produce SNAP – supplemental nutrition assistance program (formerly known as ‘food stamps’ – can create nine meals.

SNAP is for poor families who fall under the federal poverty limits. The federal program was expected to be cut back. New work rules were passed before the virus hit.

Senator Blumenthal said the Secretary of Agriculture is open to waiving those new restrictions, but warned anyone trying to keep the cutbacks, “If they don’t do the right thing administratively, Congress will bring the hammer down on them.”

Meantime, CT Food Bank – serving southern Connecticut and the shoreline – is also providing food to more clients despite the unknowns.

Paul Shippman, CT Food Bank says his food pantries are all volunteer staffs and they are working really hard to keep the doors open and use safe practices to prevent the spread of disease.

Those in charge say this new normal will probably be with us for the next few months and as unemployment is expected to reach an estimated 20%, Foodshare and CT Food Bank are going to become more critical than ever for Connecticut families.

After hearing about the shortage, Dalio Philanthropies announced a $500,000 donation each for FoodShare  CT Food Bank.

“These are terrific organizations that have spent years helping families by providing them w/nutritional meals,” explained Barbara and Ray Dalio and Dalio Philanthropies. “We are grateful to have the opportunity to help them since they provide so much help to others.”

The Dalios also directed $3 million toward childcare services at 26 centers across the state for hospital workers. The funds will pay for childcare for eight weeks for approximately 1,066 children whose parents or guardians work in the healthcare field.

Gov. Ned Lamont thanked Dalio Philanthropies for their donation Friday.

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