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CT Food Bank Distributed 18.7 Million lbs of Food in 09

By Wilton Bulletin (2/21/10)

  FEBRUARY 23, 2010 --

In 2009, Connecticut Food Bank distributed 18.7 million pounds of food to its food-assistance network, feeding more people than ever before. The amount of food distributed in 2009, up by 16.6 percent from 2008, represented the largest amount of food handled by Connecticut Food Bank in its 28-year history.

"This is a bittersweet milestone for us. We are thankful for having the ability to provide more food to feed more people, and we are fortunate to have tens of thousands of partners in the community willing to assist in making that happen. But we wish we didn't have to," said Nancy L. Carrington, chief executive officer of Connecticut Food Bank. "Every day, we at Connecticut Food Bank work with the hope that one day our services will no longer be needed because hunger won't be an issue. It's extremely sobering to know that there are still so many people in need in our communities."

The highest yearly distribution total came on the heels of Connecticut Food Bank marking the distribution of its historic 200 millionth pound of food in September 2009.

Connecticut Food Bank - the largest centralized source of donated emergency food in Connecticut - serves 650 food-assistance programs in six of Connecticut's eight counties: Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London and Windham. Food-assistance programs include food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and child and adult day programs.

In 2009, Connecticut Food Bank distributed an average 37 tons of food every business day through its three warehouses in East Haven, Fairfield, Waterbury and affiliated distribution centers in New London and Stamford.

As a result of the increased distribution, Connecticut Food Bank estimates that it provided enough food to serve more than 300,000 people, up from about 250,000 in 2008.

"Even though we have been able to increase our food distribution, we are still not meeting the increased need in Connecticut," Ms. Carrington said. "We have never fully met the need even before the current economic downturn."

Food-assistance programs have reported an average 30 percent increase in demand for their services. Many of them are seeing new people who are seeking food assistance for the first time.

A November 2009 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the number of people at risk of hunger continues to rise. Nationwide, more than 49 million Americans lived in households struggling with hunger in 2008, up from 36.2 million people in 2007 and 33.2 million in 2000.

In Connecticut, about 390,000 residents could not afford balanced meals and had to cut meals or go without food in 2008.

Ms. Carrington attributed the increase in the amount of food distributed by Connecticut Food Bank in 2009 to the tremendous work done by thefFood bank's dedicated staff, board of directors, volunteers and community supporters, including the federal government.

In 2009, increased federal funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) through the federal Farm Bill and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus funds), helped bring in 69 percent more federal food commodities to the food bank. Under the TEFAP program, Connecticut Food Bank received 7.06 million pounds of food that it distributed to its member programs in 2009, up from 4.18 million pounds of food the previous year.

Connecticut Food Bank also increased the amount of food it purchased from the previous year. In 2009, the food bank purchased 1.99 million pounds of food, an increase from 1.76 million pounds of food in 2008.

As the amount of private food donations drop from year to year, from 9.41 million pounds of donated food in 2008 to 8.72 million pounds of donated food in 2009, Connecticut Food Bank has had to gradually increase the amount of food it purchases in order to meet the need for food assistance in the state. Connecticut Food Bank, part of a national network of food banks, buys certain food items to supplement donations to ensure food-assistance programs have access to nutritious food for their recipients.

Many food retailers and manufacturers - major sources of donated food for food banks across the country - have implemented processes that reduce excess production and/or distribution of surplus food to help cut their operating costs. Some retailers are reselling products to discount stores and many are keeping smaller amounts of packaged goods and produce on store shelves.

"Private food donation levels aren't what they used to be," Ms. Carrington said. "As a result, we have to buy more food and we have to be even more creative so that we can feed even more people."

For more information, call (203) 469-5000 or visit www.ctfoodbank.org.



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