Valley hunger study released

A study of food and hunger issues in the Valley was released this week. The report examined where food comes from and how resources are used for people in need.

Valley United Way and the Food Security Task Force of the Valley Council for Health & Human Services released The Valley Hunger Study, a report on issues of hunger and access to food in Ansonia, Derby, Oxford Seymour and Shelton.

As part of the report, Food When You Need It — A Guide to Food Resources in the Valley has also been released.

The report shows that food providers in the Valley serve an average of 1,960 individuals per month, but 715 of those individuals represent multi-individual families. The average food pantry user receives enough food to last for 12 days per visit. The providers report that 36% of the food available comes from local food drives, 15% comes from the Connecticut Food Bank and 12% comes from United Way’s Corporate Volunteer Council. The study also identified the types and quantities of food found in local pantries. The study also shows that the biggest gap between demand for food and the stocks on hand takes place in February, June, July, August and September.

A strength of the study was identifying the providers that make up the system in the Valley. Though it has not functioned as a unified system in the past, the members of the Food Task Force have agreed to continue to work together to strengthen the system. A first step in that direction is the publication of the guide.

The guide identifies the resources in the Valley and provides full information including contact information, hours of operation, eligibility requirements and food provided. The guide also includes information about meal programs as well as food pantries and farmers markets located in the Valley. Information is also available about school meal programs, summer food programs and government surplus food programs.

Harvest House

Jack Walsh, president and C.O.O. at Valley United Way, said United Way’s Corporate Volunteer Council will be building Harvest House VI in September to help raise awareness of the need and to collect tens of thousands of non-perishable food items. With additional funds from the Prudential grant and United Way funding, United Way will also work with the Task Force to expand a free summer vegetable growing program for food pantry clients. Originally piloted with the Derby/Shelton Rotary Club, the program provides the resources for clients to grow their own fresh vegetables during the summer.

The study was funded by a $20,000 grant from The Prudential Foundation, the study documents the needs in the Valley and resources being applied to deal with the issue of food and hunger in the Valley.

About the Prudential Foundation

The Prudential Foundation is a nonprofit corporation supported by The Prudential Insurance Company of America, an insurance subsidiary of Prudential Financial Inc. of the U.S. The Prudential Foundation advocates for systemic change focused on eliminating barriers to financial and social mobility in the areas of meeting basic needs, connecting people to quality jobs, building personal assets and transforming communities.  As a strategic investor, the Foundation makes long-term commitments that yield tangible results through both grants and program-related investments.

The full study, resource guide and interactive map showing the locations and basic information are available on the United Way website.

About the United Way

Valley United Way is a philanthropic resource for the Valley towns of Ansonia, Derby, Oxford, Seymour and Shelton matching the needs of the community and the interests of donors to improve the quality of life in the community.

United Way supports and creates initiatives addressing youth, families and people in crisis. Each year Valley United Way funds programs and organizations that make a measurable difference in the lives of people living and working in the Valley.