The mission of Connecticut Food Bank is to provide nutritious food to people in need. We do this by supplying food products to our member agencies, as well as through direct food distribution programs and by promoting public awareness about the problem of hunger.
Connecticut Food Bank distributes food through our new centralized distribution center in Wallingford and a regional warehouse located in Fairfield. Food is also supplied to the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center, an affiliate distribution organization in New London. Connecticut Food Bank transports food with a fleet of 15 vehicles, including two customized refrigerated mobile distribution trucks that bring food and services directly to residents of low-income neighborhoods. Connecticut Food Bank employs 60 staff members and has a pool of more than 4,000 volunteers.
In the past year, Connecticut Food Bank achieved exciting goals, including:
· Connecticut Food Bank moved distribution operations in October 2015 from East Haven and Waterbury to its new 84,000 sq.ft. facility located in Wallingford. Our new warehouse is equipped with cool and cold storage areas for produce and frozen foods that meets or exceeds USDA food safety standards. Our new facility has increased receiving and distribution capacity, with 12 loading docks that accommodate shipments from tractor trailers to loading bays for service members that often have small vehicles for pantry food pick-up. Our increased capacity for food storage and distribution enables us to provide more fresh produce to our community partner food programs.
· In March 2015, we introduced our newly created Community Engagement Department to increase our capacity for marketing, community events, and hunger advocacy. We added two new management level positions for community engagement and development, and a management position for our member services team, including: Director of Community Engagement Marketing; Director of Fund Development Operations; and a Senior Director of Network Capacity and Distribution Services. This past summer, we also filled existing positions by welcoming a new Marketing and Communications Director and a Chief Development Officer.
· During 2015, we were able to increase produce distribution and help community partners in Bridgeport procure a refrigerated truck, and 7 two-door refrigerator units for our partners in New Haven, Norwich, Waterbury, New London, and Bridgeport; increasing their capacity to safely store and distribute fresh foods to seniors, children, families and individuals at-risk of hunger.
Connecticut Food Bank’s goals for the upcoming year include:
· Increased distribution of fresh produce food to our community partners to reach food insecure households in Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex, New London, New Haven and Windham Counties. We are also working to increase our Farm-to-Pantry program to provide more locally grown produce in our service area. As the economy recovers from the Great Recession, many working families’ incomes are above the limits for supplemental nutrition assistance, leaving them with hard choices when it comes choosing to buying food or to meet other needs for their family, such as healthcare. Our increased produce and food distribution to our community partners will help us feed more households who are at-risk of hunger.
· Our new community engagement team and Senior Director of Network Capacity and Distribution Services are working on ways to creatively engage and mobilize the communities we serve through hunger awareness events, including Hunger Awareness Action Month, and through advocacy surrounding food policy and legislative action.
Connecticut Food Bank addresses the need to provide nutritious food to seniors, children and families, and individuals who are at risk of hunger. In the six counties we serve, more than a half-million people struggle with food insecurity. Connecticut Food Bank provides more than 18.5 million meals annually, helping feed more than 300,000 people who struggle with hunger on a daily basis. We provide nourishing food to people of all ages from diverse ethnic, racial, religious and economic backgrounds. Through our 700 community partner food programs, Mobile Pantry, GROW! Up with Good Nutrition, and Kids’ Backpack program, we reach a wide audience and help eliminate transportation and economic barriers to accessing high-quality fresh produce, grains and dairy items; frozen chicken, fish, and meat products, and non-perishable grocery items.
Connecticut Food Bank’s three major needs are:
· Funds are needed from foundations, corporations and through individual donations to support procurement of food and grocery programs for distribution to our community partner food programs.
· Food donations are needed from food manufacturers, distributors, retailers, wholesalers, and from local farmers.
· Volunteers are needed to help us meet the need for food processing, volunteer engagement in office duties and at events. We encourage corporations and schools to volunteer at many levels, including basic tasks and skills based volunteering.
Connecticut Food Bank distributes food through our direct service programs and partners including, Mobile Pantry, GROW, and Kids' BackPack in Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London and Windham counties.
Connecticut Food Bank evaluates overall progress through the amount of nutritious food made available
to low-income households in underserved communities by tracking pounds of food and fresh produce distributed, and the nutritional
ranking of food items distributed through all programs. Connecticut Food Bank also evaluates success in reducing food-insecurity by tracking the number of seniors, children and families and individual households
served by our programs, and the number and frequency of direct service
food distribution to sites in our service area. Program evaluation also considers feedback
from partner agencies and clients who received food and services from Connecticut Food Bank and its partners.
ANNETTE & TODD (Branford, CT)
Annette works full time as a medical office receptionist. Her husband was laid off from his construction job six months ago. Her earning combined with his unemployment benefits put them over the qualifying benefits for supplemental nutrition assistance from state programs. They began visiting the Branford Food Pantry, a partner of Connecticut Food Bank, to help feed their families.
DORIS (Southbury, CT)
Doris is in her 70s. She grew up in Brooklyn, and moved to Southbury five years ago, where her mom grew up. She worked as an administrative assistant for many years, before she left the workforce to care for her son, who was battling cancer. When her son passed away, Doris had depleted nearly all of her savings. She relies on social security payments and relies on our Mobile Pantry program for fresh produce and foods she would otherwise not be able to afford.
DIANA (Plainfield, CT)
Diana describes herself as one of the working poor. She has a job with no benefits and no guaranteed work schedule. Diana’s husband Mike lost his job in 2014, and they no longer had health insurance. The Mobile Pantry program has helped them put meals and the table and still pay on the few medical bills they have.
The Mobile Pantry Program removes barriers that make it difficult for food-insecure households to find transportation to retail grocers and pantries that could be miles from their home. Our refrigerated Mobile Pantry truck provides fresh produce, and nutritious dairy and whole grain products for food insecure people in the towns we serve. Each month, Connecticut Food Bank visits more than 31 distribution sites in our service area, distributing a wide variety of fresh food items reaching more than 4,500 households at-risk of hunger. A second mobile Pantry truck has been purchased through a State of Connecticut grant and will become operational in early 2017, with a goal of adding at least 8 new sites during the first year of operation.
Mobile Pantry client stories:
CYNTHIA - “It’s been a blessing.”
That’s how Cynthia describes the food assistance she and her family receive each month from our Mobile Pantry program. Cynthia recently had open-heart surgery and is unable to work. She said the Mobile Pantry her and her daughter and her grandchildren make it through some tough times. She offered this comment, “I’ve always loved vegetables and sometimes I don’t have enough money to buy them, When I come here, I always know I can get my fruits and vegetables.”
ERNEST - “The Mobile Pantry is a lifeline.”
Ernest, a Vietnam War veteran, said the Mobile Pantry is a lifeline. He is unable to work because of a service-related disability. Ernest said that before regularly visiting the Mobile Pantry, he would rely on cans of soup and spaghetti to get by. He now enjoys the fresh foods he picks-up at the Mobile Pantry, and feels they help him stay healthy, “I’m able to get vegetables and potatoes, and today I received a variety of peppers and mushrooms. If it wasn’t for the Mobile Pantry, I would have less choices and not the variety of food to keep me healthy.”
Our Kids' BackPack Program distributes healthy and child-friendly weekend food packets to schoolchildren who are at risk of hunger on weekends when low-cost or free National School Lunch Program (NSLP) meals are unavailable. This school year, the Kids’ BackPack Program will serve more than 3,324 food-insecure schoolchildren from 22 public school districts in our service area. When school is out-of-session from June – August, the Summer BackPack Program serves nearly 1,000 children, with 8 designated sites in Fairfield, Litchfield, and Middlesex counties.
Feedback from BackPack school partners:
“A first grader said that she was sad on Friday because it was a snow day and she did not have Friday club (which is when bags are passed out). She was happy on Monday because she was back at school and would get her snack bag. She stated that she really looked forward to it. The weekend snack program is the best part of Friday for her!”
“I have a student who is homeless. He visits his father every other weekend and they usually stay in a hotel with a microwave. He lives on the backpacker food on these weekends as there is no money for food. Prior to this, they might share one pizza over the weekend. Thanks for the program!”
“I don’t hear from the parents about the program but I can tell you that the kids love it. When I pass the kids in the hallway they will always ask, “Are we having backpack club this week?” They really like the food and some really get excited when they get the Cheerio bar. When the kids hear the announcement for the club they literally come running to get their bag. I had one student who told me that when he visited his family over the holiday season he brought his bag of food with him and when he returned to school he was asking when he would be getting the next bag.”
The GROW! Up with Good Nutrition initiative is a family-centered program designed to provide nutritional foods for low-income families with young children. The GROW! truck is a customized, refrigerated vehicle with a mini-supermarket interior. Serving 31 distribution sites, the GROW! program is held at locations that offer early childhood services, preschool daycare, and Head Start programs. Parents and children participate in a brief nutrition and health education workshop before boarding the truck, where they are able to choose fresh foods and non-perishables, which might include items such as paper towels and diapers. In the fall of 2016, Connecticut Food Bank began distribution at 3 new sites for the GROW! program in Stamford, New Milford and Danbury.
A mother lives with her six year old and the child’s grandmother – three generations under one roof – she says:
"The GROW workshops are very interesting. I learned a lot. My favorite tip is about bringing a grocery list so you can plan meals to pair with the food we get from the GROW truck. I never used a grocery list before – I just 'winged it' , but now I plan everything out – what groceries I buy at Stop & Shop, Walgreens and the Dollar Store. I choose groceries to make meals with the food that I get from the GROW truck. A grocery list is handy I have learned! Money is so tight, so I am glad to have it.The staples from the GROW truck are great – we use them all at home."
A father attends an afternoon workshop with his two toddlers in tow; he shares:
"I am very happy with the GROW program. I have been to other food workshops before, but the GROW truck nutrition workshops have been even more useful and helpful for me –telling me practical things and nutritional things. . . My favorite workshop has been 'getting the best deal' since food is so expensive. . . things like using coupons, not shopping when you are hungry, buying big packages and breaking them down into smaller packages and looking for sales. Tips like that. Learning these things has been most helpful, and, the food is fantastic! I use every bit of it."
". . . been a great help. Money is tight and I can give my family good, healthy food more often. I cut and freeze the vegetables and they last until the [GROW] truck comes again. Its fun for the children (ages 3 and 4 ½ years); they love to go on the‘grocery store truck’ as they call it and love to help me pick out the food. It has made them more aware of wanting to eat healthy. They are always asking ‘when are we going to go again?’ ”
Connecticut Food Bank is working to build relationships with community partners and legislators through our Community Engagement Department and with the addition of the newly created position of Senior Director of Network and Distribution. Connecticut Food Bank will hold an open house at our new 84,000 sq.ft. facility in February.State legislators from the counties we serve and municipal CEO’s will be invited to attend, providing our leadership team and staff the opportunity to tour our facility and show new ways for us to work with community partners. Our Marketing and Communications Director is preparing a metrics dashboard that will be used to keep legislators updated on Connecticut Food Bank’s work to alleviate hunger in their communities. Connecticut Food Bank has also applied to have the Marketing and Communications Director attend advocacy training at Feeding America’s Advocacy Academy to give us the tools needed to build strategic advocacy in state and federal legislation.
In the summer of 2015, Connecticut Food Bank welcomed a new Marketing and Communications Director and Chief Development Office. Thanks to these new development staff members, the organization is building a strategic plan for anti-hunger advocacy at the state and national level, including: building relationships with state legislators; supporting current anti-hunger initiatives at the legislative level; working in partnership with End Hunger CT! to track with some their advocacy initiatives; as well as participating in Feeding America advocacy opportunities at the national level.
Bernard Beaudreau comes to the position with nearly 40 years of experience in human service work, including more than 20 years of leadership in food banking and hunger related service organizations at the state, national and international levels.
Prior to joining Serve Rhode Island, Beaudreau was Vice President of Development with The Global FoodBanking Network in Chicago, Illinois, which supports the development of food banks and national food bank networks in 14 countries. He developed grant proposals to major U.S. corporations, philanthropists and private foundations.
For 11 years, Beaudreau was Executive Director of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, where he steadily grew the base of financial donors, increased donations by more than 600%, tripled food distribution and managed the relocation of the food bank to a state-of-the art facility. Beaudreau spearheaded initiatives to raise awareness of the issues of hunger and poverty and organized Rhode Island’s first-ever Childhood Poverty Summit.
Before leading the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, Beaudreau held three positions of increasing responsibility in resource development roles at Boston-based Oxfam America, the international relief and development agency.
Beaudreau’s experience also includes resource and development roles in education and community development.
In making the announcement, Connecticut Food Bank Board Chair Alex Hutchinson said, “Bernie has a combination of experience and commitment to mission that will help the Connecticut Food Bank continue its leadership role in the fight against hunger.”
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