I have never been food insecure because, growing up on a country farm, my family always had food on the table. I did not appreciate the fact that we had fresh vegetables, eggs and meat–even if we didn’t have the nicest clothes, furniture or house in the neighborhood–until much later in life.
So two years ago, in the heart of the economic downturn, when I thought about how so many people were out of work and losing their homes, I tried to come up with a way that I could help. The General Federation of Women’s Clubs of CT (GFWC/CT) was soliciting suggestions for a two-year project for the coming administration at that time. To me, to provide food, a fundamental need that we all have, to the food insecure was the only answer. So I reached out to the CT Food Bank and FoodShare for help. We put together a proposal that was voted on and approved at the GFWC/CT May Convention.
It’s been a terrific two years since the current State Project, CT Food Bank/FoodShare, began. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people with both the CT Food Bank and FoodShare, I’ve learned a lot in the process and I’ve enjoyed working with women from all over the state on this very critical mission.
But most importantly, club members have all done such a fantastic job of raising awareness of food insecurity in our state and we’ve all come together to support not only the CT Food Bank and FoodShare, but also our and soup kitchens. Two years ago, I challenged these women to “Act as if it were impossible to fail because failure has no place at our table,” and their response was Huge!
Club members all over the state walked the , worked with local farmers to donate crops, volunteered at the warehouses filling backpacks and collecting turkeys, held tea bag fundraisers and author luncheons, stuffed canoes and buses and hauled in countless bags of nonperishable food items to their local food pantries.
My original goal when I started this project was to raise $25,000 and collect 50,000 pounds of food. I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet on all activities from the start and the numbers are impressive. We have long since surpassed what once seemed like a lofty goal. In the past 24 months, members have given 5,808 hours of their time, raised more than $43,000, and donated more than 63,700 pounds of food. That’s not chicken feed as they say on the farm. While collecting food has its benefits, the CT Food Bank and Foodshare can stretch a dollar like no one can. For every $10 that was raised, they can provide 34 meals to someone in need.
This year, donations are down and the federal budget for food assistance was recently cut by a third. This means that food banks all over America will have less buying power and will not be able to meet the ever growing demand for food assistance. I urge you to support your local food pantry and consider CT Food Bank and FoodShare when you are making a donation to a charity in the future. For more information and to make a donation, go to www.ctfoodbank.org.