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Thanks for Your Support

Thank you doesn’t seem enough to express the appreciation felt by Connecticut Food Bank for the great outpouring of support from thousands of individuals, families, civic groups, schools, religious organizations and companies that helped make our “Thanksgiving for All” campaign a success. The people of Connecticut have always been generous—and they proved that again this year.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and October’s snow storm, people were generous. Because of that early generosity, we were concerned that donations during the Thanksgiving season would drop. But we put out the call for the need for food and the community responded overwhelmingly.

Together, we collected 25,052 turkeys and more than 392,000 pounds of trimmings. With everyone’s help, we were able to provide nearly 600,000 meals for people in need of food assistance this holiday season.

As we count our blessings for the outpouring of community support, we have to remember Thanksgiving is just one day. In Connecticut alone, there are approximately 400,000 people who struggle to put food on the table. And nearly one in five children in Connecticut doesn’t always know where his or her next meal will come from.

We can’t justify people living with hunger. We must do all we can to change this. And as we learned this Thanksgiving, we have the ability and fortitude to feed thousands of individuals who were in danger of going without a holiday meal. Let’s carry that resolve beyond Thanksgiving and into the days and months that follow.

On behalf of Connecticut Food Bank and the 600 food-assistance programs we serve, thank you for your wonderful support this Thanksgiving and all year long.

Sincerely,

Nancy L. Carrington
President & CEO
Connecticut Food Bank

Our “Thanksgiving for All” campaign is under way with special events, food drives and fundraisers to help individuals and families in need of food assistance during the holiday season and the cold winter months that follow.

The turkeys and “trimmings” collected will be distributed by Connecticut Food Bank to food-assistance programs in the days before Thanksgiving. The funds will be used to buy more holiday food and for the distribution of the donated food throughout Connecticut. Last weekend’s Stuff-a-Bus food drive sponsored by Unilever at the Silver Sands Stop & Shop in Milford yielded 1,600 pounds of food.

Last year, we distributed enough turkeys and trimmings to provide an estimated 790,000 meals for people in need during the holiday season. This year, every food and fund drive is critical, not only to collect food and funds, but to increase awareness about the ongoing problem of hunger and poverty that many Connecticut residents continue to face. One out of every seven households in Connecticut is struggling to keep food on the table.

You can watch our President & CEO Nancy L. Carrington on News 8 today, talking about the need this Thanksgiving.

CT Food Bank in need of donations: wtnh.com

“Thanksgiving for All 2011” Food Drive events include:

• 99.1 WPLR “Phil the Bowl” Food Drive. November 16 -18. Donate 10 non-perishables, a frozen turkey or $10 and receive two tickets to the Yale vs. Harvard game on Saturday, November 19, kick off at noon. WPLR is broadcasting live throughout the drive. Wednesday and Thursday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Big Y, 345 Washington Avenue, North Haven.

• “Star 99.9 Food for Friends. November 17, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Star 99.9 is collecting non-perishables, frozen turkeys and financial donations to support Connecticut Food Bank!
Stop & Shop, Orange, 259 Bull Hill Lane
Stop & Shop, Shelton, 898 Bridgeport Avenue
Stop & Shop, Westport, 1790 Post Road East

• KC 101 Stuff-a-Bus. November 18 & 19. Collecting frozen turkeys, non-perishables and financial donations. Friday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ShopRite Plaza, 2100 Dixwell Avenue, Hamden

• WATR Big Heart at Big Y. November 18 & 19. Collecting frozen turkeys, non-perishables and financial donations. 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Big Y, 85 Bridge Street, Naugatuck

• “Fill the Bowl” at Yale Bowl. Saturday, November 19. Presented by News 8, 99.1WPLR and Yale Athletics. Support Connecticut Food Bank by donating a frozen turkey or non-perishables and receive 2 tickets to the Yale vs. Harvard game! Collection takes place when gates open until halftime. Kick-off at noon. Yale Bowl, 250 Derby Avenue, New Haven.

• Radio 104.1 Friends of Maze Food Drive. November 20 & 21. Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Monday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Connecticut Food Bank and friends at Radio 104.1 will be collecting non-perishables, frozen turkeys and cash donations. ShopRite, 846 North Colony Road, Wallingford.

• i95 Camping for Cans. Monday, November 21 – 23, 5 to 10 a.m., Stop & Shop, 72 Newtown Rd., Danbury

Connecticut Food Bank Fund Drives include:

• Check Out Hunger. Price Chopper, ShopRite and Balducci’s stores through November 30. Add a $1, $3 or $5 donation tag to your grocery bill and the funds will be donated to Connecticut Food Bank.

• Food for Friends. Stop & Shop stores through December 8. Add a $1, $3 or $5 donation tag to your grocery bill and the funds will be donated to help those in need!

In addition, Connecticut Food Bank warehouses in East Haven, Fairfield and Waterbury will have extended holiday hours to accept food and monetary donations from the public. Visit www.ctfoodbank.org for holiday hours and directions.

Those unable to get to a food drive may donate a turkey or other items at Connecticut Food Bank’s Virtual Food Drive at http://www.ctfoodbank.org.
For event or warehouse information call (203) 469-5000 or visit http://www.ctfoodbank.org.

Fairfield County Community Foundation President & CEO Juanita T. James (left) and Connecticut Food Bank President & CEO Nancy L. Carrington oversee packing of food for the Kids' BackPack Program

Program provides healthy weekend meals for students at risk of hunger

Connecticut Food Bank is the recipient of a multi-year gift from Fairfield County Community Foundation that will double the number of children in Bridgeport who participate in its vitally important Kids’ BackPack Program. Through the Foundation’s initial gift of $124,000, more than 900 Bridgeport school children will receive nutritious food during weekends when other resources, including free/reduced price school meals, are not available to them.

“Well-nourished children tend to have fewer illnesses and better school achievement than those who are chronically hungry,” said Nancy L. Carrington, president and CEO of Connecticut Food Bank. “We are extremely grateful to the Fairfield County Community Foundation’s long-term support of the Kids’ BackPack Program in Bridgeport. It is such an important component of child nutrition for those who participate.”

“The Foundation and our donors support many programs to address the achievement gap in our schools, including training future principals and funding effective after-school and summer programs,” said Juanita T. James, president and CEO of the Fairfield County Community Foundation. “But if students can’t focus in the classroom because they are hungry, these programs cannot succeed. The Kids’ Backpack program is a solution that gets to the heart of a critical issue in our community.”

The Kids’ BackPack Program plans to serve 109 schools in 18 Connecticut towns in the 2011-2012 school year. Seventy schools in the Fairfield County area participate; including 28 from Bridgeport. A typical bag of food includes two each of packages of milk, 100 percent fruit juice, two whole grain cereals, two high-nutrition entrees and two low-fat, low sugar snacks.

In Connecticut, nearly one in five children is food insecure, meaning they do not know where their next meal is coming from. In Connecticut Food Bank’s service area, 53 percent of the food insecure population does not qualify for food stamps or other government programs, so they often must rely on other sources such as Connecticut Food Bank and others to help feed themselves and their families.

We want to share this announcement we received from Congressman Joe Courtney’s office earlier this week.

Congressman and Mrs. Courtney each to live on $32.59 food budget for a week to highlight possible cuts to low-income program

Congressman Courtney and his wife Audrey today began the week-long SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Challenge, a program of the New London County Food Policy Council, to highlight the challenges facing families that receive SNAP benefits in eastern Connecticut.

“Each day, tens of thousands of families across the Second Congressional District are forced to live on an individual food budget of about $4. As Congress debates legislation that would cut this invaluable program, I believe it is important for members of Congress like me to understand firsthand the challenges my constituents face,” said Congressman Courtney.

“In New London County there are 27,000 people receiving SNAP benefits. Participants of this challenge will come away with a greater understanding of how difficult it is to eat (or feed a family) balanced and nutritious meals on a limited budget. The New London County Food Policy Council not only wants to raise awareness but also promote the health impact of healthy food choices,” explained Keith Fontaine, Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at Backus Hospital and Chair of the New London County Food Policy Council.

SNAP is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to put nutritious food within financial reach for low-income households. Many recipients in deep or prolonged poverty struggle to make their benefits last for the entire month and are forced to visit food pantries. The 7-day program will limit the amount of the Congressman and Audrey’s individual food purchases to that of a typical SNAP participant – just $32.59 a week or $1.59 per meal.

Over 380,000 individuals in Connecticut are receiving SNAP benefits. SNAP is facing deep cuts in Congress – up to $4 billion a year – as the House debates plans to reduce the nation’s budget deficit.

Get the latest on The Challenge from Rep. Courtney:

The Congressman will blog about the experience, its challenges, and lessons learned at courtney.house.gov/SNAP. Second Congressional District constituents are encouraged to follow what Congressman Courtney is eating on Twitter at twitter.com/repjoecourtney. He will tweet his meals using the hash tag #snapchallenge.

Connecticut Food Bank recently honored our Hunger Action Heroes at an awards ceremony attended by more than 100 at our East Haven warehouse. The heroes are individuals, businesses and organizations that go above and beyond to support Connecticut Food Bank in its mission to alleviate hunger in Connecticut. The ceremony is held annually in September, designated as Hunger Action Month.

“You are our heroes in many ways, but more importantly you are our inspiration, making a difference in the lives of the men, women and children who depend on us for food,” Connecticut Food Bank President & CEO Nancy L. Carrington told the honorees. “We thank you for your extraordinary service on behalf of our mission to alleviate hunger in Connecticut.”

Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro was presented with The Bill Liddell Award – the highest tribute paid by Connecticut Food Bank to an individual, organization or corporation in recognition of exemplary service, ongoing dedication and significant support of the Food Bank and its mission. The award was named after Bill Liddell who supported the Food Bank by donating a total of 104 tons of fresh produce, as well as time and funds. He spent six years on Connecticut Food Bank’s Board of Directors.

“Since her election to Congress in 1990, Rosa DeLauro is one of the strongest voices in for local, national and global hunger relief efforts,” said Carrington. ”We are grateful for her tireless work to help those who face the struggles of food insecurity.”

Other 2011 Connecticut Food Bank Hunger Action Heroes are:
• Carl Asikainen: Advocacy Hero
• A-1 Toyota: Business Hero
• Junior League of Greater New Haven: Civic Hero
• Walmart: Corporate Hero
• Anthony DiBenedetto, Hallock Orchard (Washington Depot): Farm Hero
• ShopRites of Hamden, Milford, Stratford and West Haven: Fundraising Hero
• Ocean State Job Lot: Food Industry Hero
• Michael Maze: Media Hero
• Waterbury’s Evangelical Christian Church: Member Program Hero
• Sam Greco: Student Hero
• Jeremy Titus: Volunteer Hero

In addition, Connecticut Food Bank recognized top individual and team fundraisers who participated in the annual Walk Against Hunger, held in New Haven, Bridgeport and Waterbury. Those events raised more than $240,000 to support hunger-relief efforts in Connecticut.

A-1 Toyota received Connecticut Food Bank's Business Hunger Action Hero Award.

Michael Maze receives the Media Hunger Action Hero Award from Connecticut Food Bank's Events & Promotions Coordinator Stefanie Stevens.

Editor’s Note: Deb Heinrich, Gov. Dannel Malloy’s liaison to the state’s nonprofit community, agreed to take the SNAP/Food Stamp Challenge this month and live on $4 a day for food for a week.

My family has decided to feed one more person at our table each day … Since we have four people in our family, we will feed an extra person by pledging one-quarter of our monthly food budget to our local food pantry.

I’ve reached the seventh and final day of my SNAP Challenge. It has been an incredible experience and I am very glad that I tried it. I started the Challenge with two goals in mind. First, I wanted to experience first-hand what it would be like to live on a budget of $4 per day for food for one week. A good friend of mine often quotes “Idealism is proportional to one’s distance from a problem.” Nothing helps you understand what someone goes through until you walk in their shoes, right? Second, I was hoping that the Challenge might bring the issue of food insecurity to the forefront of my thoughts for a while so that I could really dig into the issues in my mind.

Looking back over the week, I feel that I have achieved both of these objectives. At first, the planning process was what kept me thinking about food and budgets and nutrition. It was a challenge and I love a challenge. I’m also a planner at heart so that part came naturally, though I was surprised at how much time that planning took. The next thing to strike me was the social aspect of food and how limiting it is not to be able to share meals with others as we so often do to connect. Then the hunger started kicking in and I started to look deeper at how limited food would affect growing children and learning and concentrating. Of necessity, the week’s food variety was limited which in turn put limits on my nutritional intake. Toward the end of the week, this began to take a toll on me physically and brought to mind thoughts of balance.

I feel that, through this Challenge, my understanding and compassion for people who live with hunger in their lives has grown exponentially. I experienced moments of deep sadness, some anger and now resolve. My family’s food costs well exceed $4 per person per day and I would like to acknowledge that this Challenge has taught me that it is very difficult to maintain a balanced, nutritious diet on this budget. Therefore, my family has decided to feed one more person at our table each day. We will do so at an amount that allows for health and food choice. Since we have four people in our family, we will feed an extra person by pledging one-quarter of our monthly food budget to our local food pantry.

I also acknowledge that, though this will undoubtedly help, it will not address the societal problems that contribute to hunger. To that point, I will continue to work with Foodshare, Connecticut Food Bank, EndHungerConnecticut!, and others to effectuate policies in our state to lift people out of poverty and food insecurity and into self sustainability and security.

I also challenge others to try the SNAP Challenge. There really isn’t anything like experience to inform us. Many people have shared their thoughts and ideas about this Challenge with me. It has been a wonderful dialogue. Now, I challenge you. If you have a great idea, try it out. Take the Challenge and apply it. Don’t forget to share your experiences as you go along. We can all learn from you too. Thank you to everyone who walked through the Challenge with me. Your willingness to talk about hunger and what it means in Connecticut and the country have enriched us all.

As per my past journal entries, here is the nitty-gritty of the day. I will eat oatmeal with brown sugar for breakfast and then lentils and rice for lunch and dinner. Many of you have asked what I will be eating tomorrow, after the Challenge is over. I have actually been thinking about that quite a bit. I will start the morning with scrambled eggs with salt, pepper and parsley. For lunch, I am going to have a HUGE salad with dark greens, carrots, tomatoes, candied walnuts, radishes, sprouted lentils, apples, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. My dinner plan is not to plan. I spent a lot of time planning the ins and outs of my meals this past week. Tomorrow night, I will do dinner on the fly. I am deeply grateful that I have the ability to do so.

Editor’s Note: Deb Heinrich, Gov. Dannel Malloy’s liaison to the state’s nonprofit community, agreed to take the SNAP/Food Stamp Challenge this month and live on $4 a day for food for a week. We are posting her experience in this blog over the next few days.

I am sitting here, staring at the computer with a raging headache, trying to concentrate on what it is I might want to write in today’s journal entry. I’ve had this headache on and off for two days. I’m on the sixth day of the Challenge. I am finding that even when I eat enough so that I don’t feel hungry, I am still not feeling well. I can’t help but think it has to do with a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables. Today’s menu is much like the past few days: oatmeal with brown sugar for breakfast, lentils and rice for lunch, snack of peanut butter and celery, lentils and rice for supper. I’m going to eat another snack (peanut butter and celery) and see if it helps.

It helped some. Perhaps I am having trouble recognizing it when I’m hungry now. I am learning first hand how my stomach can be “full”, but I can still be “hungry.” I tried to think of a different combination of groceries that might have given me more nutrients and vitamins, but every combination I’ve come up with so far lacks either vitamins or minerals or lacks protein. I can’t seem to find a balance that gives me enough calories, protein and vitamins on $4 a day.

Speaking of balance, I want to acknowledge how much time it takes to learn the ins and outs of what foods contain what nutrients and vitamins, analyze a diet, find recipes for inexpensive foods, plan a menu, buy the food, make the food, and make sure the food is with you when you need it. Balance that with working full time, raising kids, helping out family, participating in your community and more and you really come to see how it might be hard to find the time to eat healthy when your resources are limited.

I feel so incredibly sad that there are some people in my own community and state that feel this way all of the time, especially children who are growing and trying to learn.

Well, balance or not, I have another two meetings to attend this evening. So off I go.

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