Connecticut Food Bank and United Way of Southeastern Connecticut reach agreement on direct service to area programs and mobile pantries
Southeastern Connecticut, October 5, 2020 — Connecticut Food Bank and Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Bank announced that they are working together to increase food distribution in New London County. The organizations have had a partnership agreement and have agreed that Connecticut Food Bank will become the primary food distribution organization for the county. Connecticut Food Bank will assume the role of providing direct service to food assistance agencies throughout the county and offer its Mobile Pantry and Fresh Dairy Express as supplemental services. The announcement was made by Connecticut Food Bank Chief Operating Officer Daniel Gomez and Virginia Mason, President and CEO of Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Bank, a program of United Way of Southeastern Connecticut
“We have long been a partner with Gemma E. Moran/United Way Labor Food Bank for many years and the primary supplier of food,” Mr. Gomez said, referencing a redistribution agreement with the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Bank. “We are grateful for our partnership with United Way of Southeastern Connecticut and their help through the years serving more than 80 food programs in New London County, in addition to a Mobile Food Pantry program. The unprecedented need we face as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic has led us to determine both organizations must focus on our individual strengths to highlight, understand, and address the needs of households in our communities that are struggling.”
“This does not mean that United Way of Southeastern Connecticut or our long-standing Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Bank is out of the food distribution process — not at all,” shared Virginia Mason, President and CEO of United Way of Southeastern Connecticut. “Our United Way is committed to remain true to its guiding values and to honor donations to the organization. As we all know, the pandemic has changed the way everything operates. We will be working closely with Connecticut Food Bank. While they focus on the large site and mobile pantry delivery, the United Way team will be addressing gap services and focusing on the most important issue of all – the origin of food insecurity and what can be done to change the paradigm. Look for our beloved Gemma Moran Center to collect and distribute food resources and items, determined by timely needs in our community.”
“United Way of Southeastern Connecticut is a leader in identifying needs across the region, and bringing partners together to address their root causes,” Mr. Gomez said. “Direct service in food distribution is our strength and we are glad to share it with food assistance agencies throughout New London County.”
Mr. Gomez said Connecticut Food Bank would increase food access in the county by building on efficiencies of scale it enjoys through its 85,000 square foot warehouse in Wallingford and its capacity to support more food pickups and deliveries to agencies in its network.
Connecticut Food Bank and United Way organizations in Connecticut work together in sharing data to support better understanding of challenges facing people in the state, including United Way’s ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) study, which has highlighted the need for a living wage. “We value the partnership we have built and will look forward to working together where our missions intersect in the interest of people in need in New London County,” Mr. Gomez said.
“ALICE is a persona that unfortunately, our community knows too well,” shared Rodney Butler, Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal nation and member of the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut Board of Directors. “ALICE struggles to make ends meet, and if you include those who fall below the Federal Poverty Level, that’s 33% of households in New London County who cannot meet the cost of basic needs. We are all deeply concerned about this, and United Way will work to help those households in all capacities. Most importantly, we’re committed to working with Connecticut Food Bank to ensure that no one in our community goes hungry now or in the future.”
The planned transition will begin in early October, with Connecticut Food Bank providing food directly to agencies in New London County that were previously supplied with food through a distribution partnership with the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Bank. This new approach to serving the community will help provide more food to people in need.
“Food insecurity in New London County has risen sharply in the pandemic, according to research from Feeding America, the nation’s network of food banks,” said Mr. Gomez. “A 50% increase in food insecurity is projected for New London County, rising from more than 31,000 people to more than 47,000 people. As a result, one in four children in New London County will face hunger this year.