Editorial: A choice between groceries and rent

For most the country, the face of hunger is surprising. It is no different right here in Connecticut. Hunger does not discriminate against age, race, gender or ethnicity.

Hunger can affect anyone, even working families who are forced to make difficult choices between food and basic necessities such as medicine or rent.

What would you choose?

High demand in the summer

Contrary to what many people may think, the highest demand for food is in the summer, according to the Connecticut Food Bank. While summer vacation is considered to be freedom for many children, for the nearly one in five children in Connecticut who are facing hunger, it means losing the one place that they could count on for a meal — their school.

In the Valley, the Spooner House has a food bank for families in need. According to Anthony Vellucci, development director, it served more than 2,000 families — or 157,000 meals this past year. As of May, it served more than 99,000.

“Over the next several months, we estimate to distribute approximately 26,000 to 30,000 meals until our calendar year ends in August,” he said.

We had a chance to ask Vellucci about how the shelves are stocked at the food bank.

It’s not full, by any means. It's low to non-existent.

High-protein foods

He said donations that can be of help are high-protein items such as peanut butter, canned meats, fruits and more. It’s not just food that can help a family. Cleaning supplies can help at the food bank, as well as the Spooner House homeless shelter.

Families who rely on free or reduced-priced school meals to feed their children throughout the academic year are left struggling to find a way to keep their children fed when these programs end and summer vacation begins.

A family with two children has to come up with more than 200 extra meals during the summer vacation when there is no access to school meals — and that’s an extremely difficult situation to face for most low-income families.

In addition, more than half of the households in Connecticut who don’t know where their next meal is coming from do not qualify for federal assistance because their earnings are too high for the income requirements.

Why is this still OK?

For every $1 donated, Connecticut Food Bank can distribute $5 worth of food at wholesale value. More information may be found at ctfoodbank.org as well as actspooner.org for local information.