The solution to hunger in Connecticut is not just stocking the shelves of food pantries, experts said at a symposium called “Rich State, Empty Plates” Thursday in Middletown.
According to the CTNewsJunkie, the symposium hosted by End Hunger Connecticut! brought hunger agencies and lawmakers together to brainstorm options for addressing food insecurity in the state.Connecticut, though ranked the United States’ fourth wealthiest state, has more than 400,000 residents receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, with 19 percent of the state’s children living in food insecure homes, according to a release from the anti-hunger organization.
The rates of hunger in Connecticut are growing, too, with food pantries struggling to meet the need even as SNAP benefits were cut 5.5 percent in November.
The problem has extensive ramifications for the state’s children and its future. End Hunger Connecticut! Director Lucy Nolan said that “hunger impacts children’s development, education, health, and the state’s achievement gap between low and high-income students, which is the highest in the nation,” CTNewsJunkie reported.
The end result ranges from slower infant development, increased child illness, lower graduation rates, fewer students entering college and more Connecticut residents in low-paying jobs.
Foodshare director Gloria McAdams said the problem is simply too big for food banks to solve, though they are doing what they can, including helping people apply for SNAP benefits and become self-sufficient.
“It is important for us to educate the community and state and government partners on where Connecticut currently stands in the national fight against hunger. We want to identify opportunities to establish deeper collaborations and advocate for policies that ensure all Connecticut residents have access to nutritious food for themselves and their families throughout the year,” Nolan said.
Experts urged lawmakers to keep policy focused on helping low income residents and not cutting assistance programs.
Read more facts about hunger in Connecticut here.