Food Aid Groups Try To Outbid Others; State Seeks A Solution

May 04, 2020 - 2:50 pm

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTIC and AP) — The Connecticut agriculture commissioner is considering buying food in bulk to provide to organizations that feed needy people, which have seen huge upticks in demand coupled with challenges in getting supplies, he said Monday.

Having the state or another entity do so on behalf of charitable food banks and pantries might help make more food available, said Commissioner Bryan Hulburt, whose agency was recently tasked with overseeing food insecurity issues amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Just like we saw with the PPE, each organization is trying to outbid the other for additional food, and that can’t the solution as this turns into a long-term challenge that we have to respond to," Hurlburt said at a virtual roundtable with U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, and the organization End Hunger CT.

Hurlburt said his agency has already reached agreements with state colleges and universities to use their refrigerators to store bulk purchases of food.

Representatives of various food pantries reported huge demands for assistance since the coronavirus has struck the state.

Deidre DiCara, executive director of the FISH Food Pantry in Torrington, said in the online chat that some grocery stores have ceased distributing food and that she is working with a local restaurant owner's distributor to obtain meat, something the pantry has been unable to offer for a week.

That costs more, though, she said.

Various efforts are underway to make more food available to needy families in Connecticut. Hurlburt said more than 35 mobile EBT readers for food stamp recipients are being distributed to farm stands and farmers markets, due to grant funding received by the Department of Social Services.

That, he said, will double the current number of EBT readers at those locations.

The deaths of nearly 2,500 Connecticut residents have been linked to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. More than 29,000 state residents have tested positive. As of Sunday, hospitalizations had declined for 11 consecutive days, to over 1,480.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.