Living on a fixed income, Bubba Elder finds it hard to afford to put fresh fruits and vegetables on the table. So he joined 200 other people in a church parking lot in Newhallville Wednesday to pick up bags of fresh corn, carrots, onions and celery from the Connecticut Food Bank’s mobile pantry.
The mobile pantry’s monthly stop Tuesday morning in the parking lot of Community Baptist Church doubled as a launch for a month-long series of events to call attention to hunger.
“Money is tight,” Elder said. “I have a disability. If I didn’t come here, I’d probably go without.”
Some 124,230 people in New Haven County—or 14.3 percent of the population—face the same situation, said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, who helped hand out the food.
“Unfortunately a lot of people in our county experience food insecurity,” she said. “It’s so important that the food bank and the Community Baptist Church volunteers are here to make sure that people have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. I would love to see more churches using their land this way.” (Click here for a story about Harp participating in a similar distribution day during last fall’s mayoral campaign.)
The Rev. Timothy Jones, pastor of Community Baptist Church, said feeding the hungry is fundamental to the mission of the church. The church has worked with the Connecticut Food Bank to provide food in ways that the church might not have been able to do on its own.
Harp joined Connecticut Food Bank President and CEO Nancy Carrington to volunteer at Wednesday’s giveaway to launch a month-long campaign to raise awareness about hunger. September is nationally recognized as Hunger Action Month.
“This distribution it what our work is all about,” Carrington said. “It delights me that people need help to their cars because that means we have been able to give out more than one bag per person.”
Many of those loaded down with bags of fruits and vegetables were older New Haven residents like Elder, and his friend Roland Smith, who also is a regular at the monthly distribution.
“I know it would be good food out here and I can definitely use some good food,” he said.
Providing access to healthier food options for New Haven’s seniors is important because many of them have to choose between living expenses, medicine and food, Harp said.
“Where they scrimp is usually on food, usually eating less expensive, unhealthy food,” she said.
The Connecticut Food Bank operates 30 mobile pantries to bring dairy products, fresh fruit and vegetables and some whole grain products like bread to directly to people in more than 30 communities, said food bank Communications Director Mary Ingarra. The food bank asks no questions and asks for no proof of need.
“If they are here in line, they need the food,” Ingarra said.
(Click here for a story about another mobile effort the food bank runs in city neighborhoods.)
Peter Jenkins, who has lived in New Haven for 54 years, said he needs the food and the mobile pantry makes it easy to get it. He only has one suggestion for how to improve it.
“They need meat,” he said.
How to get involved:
• Be one of the first 100 people to visit Tony’s Orangeside Donut truck, 209 Church St., in front of Citizens Bank, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and receive a free orange donut if you are wearing orange.