Program expansion coincides with Hunger Action Month in September
United Way of Southeastern Connecticut is kicking off Hunger Action Month by announcing three new distribution sites for its mobile food pantry program. The mobile pantry is a critical extension of the work of the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center and focuses on bringing fresh produce, proteins, and healthy snacks directly to those most at-risk for food insecurity in New London County.
The Food Center currently provides food to nearly 100 local feeding sites which in turn help to feed more than 20,000 people every month. The mobile pantry, which launched in May 2013, has been serving more than 300 households every month at just three distribution sites in Groton, Jewett City, and Norwich. Now, three new sites will reach even more people that are at risk for hunger in New London, Baltic, and an additional site in Groton. Click here to view a complete list of sites with dates and times.
Distribution sites are determined based on both where the most people in need can be reached and areas of New London County that are considered "food deserts," where there is no large, retail grocery store or supermarket and/or where transportation options are limited. Residents may, therefore, be forced to walk long distances to buy food or to purchase it at a higher price at small convenience stores.
More than 31,000 people in New London County are considered food insecure. Additionally, the USDA recently released a report stating that nearly sixteen million children, or more than one in every five, are at risk for hunger in the U.S. As part of ongoing efforts to raise national awareness about childhood hunger and encourage the public to support their local food bank, Feeding America —the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization—has launched an awareness campaign and declared September to be Hunger Action Month.
Set up similar to a farmers’ market, United Way’s mobile pantry distributes fresh fruit and vegetables, proteins, and other surplus items to any family needing assistance. Families are advised to bring a form of ID and their own bags. The pantry distributes food for 1-2 hours at each location, and each household receives approximately a week’s worth of food. The mobile pantry, which is a custom refrigerated truck, was made possible through United Way’s partnership with Connecticut Food Bank and a donation from Connecticut Light & Power.
In honor of Hunger Action Month, the community is invited to get involved by volunteering at the Food Center or at a mobile pantry distribution site or organizing a food drive at your business or with your civic group. To learn more about volunteering or running a food drive, visit www.uwsect.org/food-center.