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Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center
Since 1988, the Gemma E. Moran United Way Labor Food Center, located in New London, has played a key role in providing one of the building blocks to a good quality of life by feeding food insecure individuals and families all across our community.
The Food Center is one of three food banks in the state. Every year, the Food Center distributes more than two million pounds of donated, surplus food to 96 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, child care centers, community meal sites, and programs for the elderly. These member agencies in turn provide food and meals to 20,000 men, women and children throughout New London County each month.
The Food Center is an official Partner Distribution Organization (PDO). This status ensures a partnership with the Connecticut Food Bank in East Haven, the largest food bank in the state, to provide a product allocation based on poverty levels as determined by the census. Through the CT Food Bank, we are also a member of Feeding America which allows the purchase of approximately $7 worth of food for every $1.
One in six children in Southeastern Connecticut is food insecure and a U.S. Census Bureau study indicates that 19,000 people in our region are living below the poverty level. When children do not have the nutrition they require, the ramifications are vast. They have a difficult time concentrating in school, putting their education in jeopardy. Their current and future health is at risk. And they may bear witness to stressed parents who struggle with how to stretch their income to meet all the costs of living.
If you share our passion for alleviating hunger and food insecurity, you are invited to take action by making a donation or running a food drive. Click here to learn more about running a drive. You can also be an advocate by volunteering at the Food Center, promoting healthier food options, and supporting local farmers, growers, and food producers.
A HISTORY OF THE FOOD CENTER
The Food Center's seeds were planted during a time of deep recession in the region. It began as an informal but heartfelt program to assist the families of laid-off workers through the collection and distribution of food. It is the brainchild of the incomparable Gemma E. Moran after she listened to a child describe that their refrigerator at home was completely bare. As families tried desperately to make ends meet, Moran hoped to give them one less thing to worry about by helping to put a decent meal on the table. Moran remains a strong voice in our community for those struggling with hunger.
It is only through the strong and time-tested partnership between the Labor Movement in Southeastern Connecticut and United Way that the Food Center as we know it today ever came to be. It first officially opened in 1988 on the campus of the Uncas on Thames in Norwich.
In 1999, the Gemma E. Moran United Way Labor Food Center moved to a new site and celebrated its grand reopening at its current location at 374 Broad Street in New London. The 200,000-square-foot facility more adequately met the space requirements of the growing program. The Food Center's location was made possible by a grant from the state, thanks to the lobbying efforts of Representative Wade Hyslop, Jr., Andrea Stillman, Nancy De Marinis, Lenny Winkler, and Senator Melodie Peters.
The facility was refurbished by volunteers including skilled union workers of the Metal Trades Council, AFL-CIO, Southeastern Connecticut Labor Council, MDA-UAW Workers Local 571, Teamsters Union Local 493, and Norwich-New London Building and Construction Trades Council, in partnership with United Way. General Dynamics Electric Boat provided paint, refrigerators, and other necessary equipment while their dedicated volunteers painted the entire building. The company still provides a volunteer one day per week to assist in the warehouse. In July, 2001, Dominion/Millstone Power Station made a generous donation of $100,000 for a new roof. In 2008, the Food Center celebrated its 20th anniversary and invited the entire community to an open house for food, music, and fun activities.
In 2011, United Way, along with numerous community partners, expanded its vision beyond providing food to advocacy. The New London County Food Policy Council (NLCFPC) is a shared leadership initiative with William W. Backus Hospital, FRESH New London, TVCCA, and Lawrence & Memorial Hospital. The Council consists of representatives and residents from all sectors of the food system that collaborate on mutually beneficial solutions to food system problems.
In 2013 our vision is hitting the road with a new Mobile Food Pantry, a custom-made refrigerated truck delivering perishable food items for direct distribution to people in need. The program is a way to help people, some of which live in remote locations, to acquire items they may not find in a traditional pantry including fresh fruits and vegetables. The program's "no questions asked" philosophy and farmer's market feel will allow clients a level of comfort while utilizing it. The truck is made by possible by the generosity of CL&P and the CT Food Bank.
If your organization is a food distribution site and would like to participate, please call the Food Center at (860) 444-8050.
Food Center Quick Links
Click the links below to:
Helping Families in Need
Helping Families in Need from Connecticut Senate Democrats on Vimeo.
After touring the Gemma E. Moran United Way Labor Food Center, Senator Andrea Stillman helped to deliver 300 pounds of food collected in the Senate Majority Office at the state Capitol.