Since the beginning of the recession, more families are in need of the services provided by food banks. Now this year, add in the effects of the drought that has hit much of the country. A recent report from the United States Department of Agriculture found that nearly 12 percent of Connecticut residents are what is known as "food insecure."
Joining us to talk about the state of food banks in Connecticut is Gloria McAdam. She's the President and CEO of Foodshare, which serves the Greater Hartford region.
McAdam says the need for food banks has increased over the last few years. She adds, "Since the start of the recession, the number of people coming to food pantries or community kitchens has risen by about 30 percent." Nationally, about one in eight of our neighbors need food pantry help, and McAdam says those numbers are similar in Connecticut.
The drought we are experiencing will increase food prices, McAdam says, which will affect the ability of low-income people to buy food, and cause them to rely "more than ever" on food pantries. But donations to food pantries are also likely to suffer, with less food available overall.
The US Department of Agriculture report says that nearly 4.5 percent of Connecticut residents have "very low food security." McAdam says the majority of those residents are in urban areas, but the sharp increases in need are in suburban areas in recent years. "There are fewer people needing assistance in suburban areas," she adds, "but the numbers are rising more quickly there," in towns such as Vernon and Enfield.
With the Farm Bill set to expire at the end of the month, a proposed bill would cut funding for SNAP - the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. McAdam says this would have a huge impact on the ability to supply food to the needy in Connecticut.