MIDDLETOWN, Conn. — As food insecurity continues to take a toll on Connecticut towns and cities, local chapters of the Kiwanis club banded together Saturday morning at the AME Zion Church in Middletown to pack tens of thousands of meals for those in need.
“To get everybody in after COVID and united for fellowship and service is so great,” said Gayla Bartlett, the governor of the New England & Bermuda District of Kiwanis.
About 90 members from 14 Kiwanis clubs in Connecticut packaged 4,500 meal packets. That amounts to 27,000 meals for families in need across the state.
“Kiwanis is an international organization and our mission is serving the children in our communities, one child at a time,” Bartlett said.
“We looked for a project that we could do locally in one club but impact the entire state of Connecticut,” said Kristen Holden, Lt. Gov. for Division 18 of the New England and Bermuda District of Kiwanis.
The event was a partnership with End Hunger New England and all the packed meals will go to local soup kitchens, food pantries, churches and school backpack programs.
“Anywhere that is in need within the state of Connecticut, we are going to be impacting, so we have clubs all the way in Stamford, Middletown, Meriden, all the way up to Windsor, Milford,” added Holden.
About 428,000 people in Connecticut are facing hunger, according to Feeding America, with 109,000 children facing hunger.
“Food insecurity for kids, you know, they’re going to school, they’re trying to learn," Holden said. "If they don’t have the basic needs. If their tummies aren’t full, they’re not going to be able to function.”
The pandemic only made things worse.
“You remember from the first month of the pandemic all the people in line for four hours waiting to get food, they’ve never been to a pantry before so a lot of that happened initially, but now we’ve got supply chain issues. The food system broke there for a while,” said Matthew Martin with the End Hunger New England Outreach Program.
This effort is also extending beyond the borders of Connecticut to help support a mission by ending hunger.
“Most of the boxes are going local but some are funded this morning are going to go to Ukraine, where we’ve set a goal to feed a million refugees,” Martin said.
Each box is stuffed with plenty of food and lots of love.
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