New Haven, which enjoys a reputation as a “foodie destination” for high-end dining, also has a hunger problem.
A new report released by The Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) and the New Haven Food Policy Council (NHFPC) concludes that “hunger is growing at an alarming rate” in the city.
It found that more than one in five New Haveners — 22 percent — is “food insecure.” That means at some point in the month they miss meals, can’t afford food, and/or choose between paying the rent and buying groceries. That figure compares to 12 percent statewide and 13 percent nationally.
The problem is especially acute in the city’s poorest neighborhoods, particularly among the unemployed and underemployed ... and among the Latinx population. A full 50.1 percent of Latinos and Latinas in the six poorest neighborhoods in New Haven are food insecure, according to the report.
Operators of the city’s 62 food pantries are seeing the rise firsthand. The biggest food pantry, Loaves & Fishes at St. Paul and St. James Episcopal Church at Olive and Chapel streets, had its busiest month in 40 years in November, according to Executive Director James Cramer. It distributed 341 bags of groceries on one Saturday alone, he said. As many as 20 new people are showing up a week, many of them having moved here from Puerto Rico to flee the after-effects of Hurricane Maria.
In an interview on WNHH FM’s “Dateline New Haven” program, Cramer and CARE Director Alycia Santilli discussed the new report’s findings, the underlying problems of poverty, structural delivery that need addressing in New Haven, and CARE’s new opportunities at its new home at Southern Connecticut State University. They also urged listeners to read the new CARE report — you can find it here — and to support and volunteer for local organizations like Loaves & Fishes, the Community Soup Kitchen, and the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen.
Click on or download the above audio file or the Facebook Live video below to hear the full interview with Santilli and Cramer on WNHH FM’s “Dateline New Haven” program.