Hunger is a problem that impacts families and children all around the world. No one should have to go hungry, and Hunger Action Month reminds us that there are families right here in our neighborhoods who need a hand up.
According to a study conducted by Feeding America, 406,810 people in Connecticut are struggling with hunger. -- 115,240 of them are children. That’s 1 in 9 people and 1 in 6 children who deal with food insecurity.
Families that struggle to pay their bills often have difficulty affording fresh, healthy food. Despite working hard to make ends meet, they don’t have much money left for food after they pay for housing, transportation, and childcare. It’s not fair that affording nutritious meals for their families becomes a burden as they try to scrape up enough money to make it until their next paycheck.
Our mission at United Way of Western Connecticut is to help ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) prosper. Through various partnerships, we have been able to help improve the lives of these hard-working families. Partnerships include one with the Connecticut Food Bank to provide three evening Mobile Food Pantries funded by United Way: one pantry in Bethel, New Milford, and Stamford. These Mobile Food Pantries ensure hard-working families have access to free, healthy, and nutritious foods. Last year, more than 420 households received fresh food each month, saving each household approximately $100. More than 183,000 pounds of food was distributed throughout our region!
Another initiative, first started in 2017 by Danbury Food Collaborative member Mike Greene, has rescued food valued at more than $1 million. With a lot of help from volunteers, staff from United Way and CT Food Bank have rescued food valued at $1.67 per pound by Feeding America. For more than 64 weeks, this effort has been rescuing as much as 15,000 pounds of food per week—enough food to feed approximately 500 families.
A highly innovative partnership is with Solutron (to offer the Healthy Savings Program) also helps struggling individuals and families put more fresh food on their tables by offering substantial discounts at the grocery store. By using the Healthy Savings card or mobile app, shoppers receive a 50% discount on fresh produce purchases up to a savings of $10 per week. That means you can buy $20 worth of fresh produce for $10. They can also save up to $50 per week on pre-qualified healthy food staples, such as lean meats, milk, bread, eggs, yogurt, cheese, beans, and more.
For Hunger Action Month, we want to celebrate our partnerships and volunteers who have created lasting change in our communities. Through a shared purpose aimed at ensuring hard-working, struggling families get the hand up they need, your commitment and impact is improving lives throughout Western Connecticut.