Foodshare President's Blog

Foodshare President's Blog

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Do you want to end hunger?

How about volunteering with Foodshare's SNAP Outreach Program?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is one of the most effective and efficient ways to end hunger in our state. This federal program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, currently serves more than 405,000 Connecticut residents, with thousands more applying each month. This necessary benefit gives many individuals the chance to provide nutritious and healthy meals to their families, yet the program is still highly underutilized.

Currently, over 30% of SNAP eligible households in Connecticut are not receiving benefits. If we can increase participation by just 5% the additional amount of food purchased in Connecticut would be more than what Foodshare can distribute in a whole year!

Not to mention, SNAP is also a great way to boost the local economy! Research shows that every $1.00 spent in SNAP benefits results in $1.73 worth of local economic activity. SNAP is federal money being spent in our own community.

Foodshare began a SNAP Outreach program in 2008 with a goal of increasing participation rates by helping those who qualify apply for the benefit. It all began with one full-time staff person and a small group of volunteers. Since that time, the program has grown to include 20 trained volunteers completing 40-70 hours of SNAP outreach every month in the form of pre-screening and application assistance.

Last year, Foodshare volunteers connected 235 households with SNAP, and provided phone referral services to hundreds more. Over the next decade we hope to partner with other Statewide organizations to increase participation in Connecticut from 75% to 95%. A number that is already achieved by many other States.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Do you want to end hunger?

Then think about becoming a budget coach and helping a head of household work out a financial plan for the family:

Play a critical role in helping a working family create and stick to a budget, pay bills on time and save for the future.

Hear from Tiffani, a certified nursing assistant in Hartford, about her struggle to make ends meet, click here

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Do you want to end hunger?

Then consider tutoring a child.

Here's one option: 

United Way Readers: 
Change a life in an hour! Help a child develop reading and comprehension skills needed to succeed in school and life.

Find out how Oliver learned to read above grade level and is now on track to a successful future, click here. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Words of thanks

Last week, at the Mobile Foodshare site in East Windsor, one of the people receiving food, gave this note, written out several times, to each of the volunteers helping distribute the food:

Just one more reminder that it can happen to anyone!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Providing food assistance with dignity

Did you see the segment on last Sunday's "60 Minutes" called War and Hunger?

Some of the segment moved me to tears to see the struggles of people in countries torn by war and where food is used as a weapon.

But the show also brought great joy, to see the work of the World Food Programme, and its tireless and passionate team.  And especially to see former Feeding America executive Ertharin Cousin, who is now the Executive Director of the WFP.

With Ertharin's leadership, the WFP has taken a new approach to feeding people in refugee camps.  Instead of the mass feeding, cafeteria style, that you are used to seeing in the wake of a disaster or crisis, the WFP is building supermarkets!  Each refugee family is then given a food card and they can get their own food, prepare their own meals, and eat together as a family!

Doesn't this make sense?

It's the disaster equivalent of providing SNAP benefits in the US or of the best practice of providing client choice at food pantries in the US.  We recommend that, instead of pre-packing bags for families, the families be allowed to choose their own food.  It's more dignified, less food is wasted, and it let's the volunteers interact with the clients in new ways - ways that might actually build human relationships and help a family on the road to self-sufficiency.

We need to feed people who are hungry, whether the disaster is natural or man-made, and whether it's here in the US or overseas.  But can't we do it in a way that preserves the dignity of the person needing the assistance?