The Valley United Way recently published the Valley Hunger Study, with the cooperation of the Valley Council Food Security Task Force and funding from the Prudential Foundation, part of Prudential Financial’s commitment to corporate social responsibility. The Hunger Study was developed in an effort to present the community with a clearer picture of hunger and food insecurity in the Valley. Working with the Community Results Center at the United Way of Connecticut, the Task Force researched the extent of hunger in the Valley and what resources are currently being directed to alleviate hunger.
TEAM’s President/CEO David Morgan said, “TEAM has always been at the front line in striving to meet the basic essential needs of our most disadvantaged populations, and it was a real pleasure for me to Co-Chair and sit amongst this gifted group of providers – their work on this Study is the bedrock to a coordinated system of addressing food-need throughout the Valley. All the credit and recognition goes to these incredible food pantries and experts on the Food Insecurity Task Force whom made this Study possible.”
Since the economic downturn in 2008, many middle class families are now experiencing food insecurity and are struggling to afford enough groceries to consistently keep their families fed. Food insecurity is any time a household is uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all of their household members, due to having insufficient money or other resources for food.
One out of every seven American families experienced food insecurity at times during the year according to a 2013 study by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). One out of every 11 households experienced low food security, meaning they obtained just enough food to avoid substantially disrupting their eating patterns through either Federal food assistance programs or local community food pantries, or they reduced their food intake by eating a more restrictive diet. One out of every 18 households experienced very low food security, with the normal eating patterns of one or more household members disrupted, and food intake reduced at times during the year. Of households with children under age 18, one in five experienced food insecurity at times during the year.
Included in the Hunger Study is a comprehensive Resource Guide to food resources in the Valley, as well as an interactive map of these resources.
The conclusion of the Hunger Study is that individuals and families who need food assistance in the Valley have many good community resources; there is, however, more that can be done to improve food security in the Valley. In the Hunger Study, the Task Force makes the following recommendations:
- Adopt a common method of measuring food
- This will enable Valley food resources to consistently measure and report their collective impact in the community.
- Explore feasibility of additional sites for the Connecticut Food Bank Mobile Pantry
- 43% of individuals surveyed at food pantries cited transportation as a significant barrier to accessing food assistance
- Develop a Food Action Plan for the Valley
- A Food Action Plan is developed around long-term goals to best benefit the community, and includes a breakdown of action and strategies that can be implemented to achieve the goals.
The Hunger Study and resultant report were made possible through the collaborative efforts led by the Valley Council Food Security Task Force, co-chaired by TEAM’s President/CEO David Morgan and Patricia Tarasovic of Valley United Way, and the organizations that its members represent including TEAM, Inc., Valley United Way, Ansonia Public Schools, Christ Episcopal Church, Derby Public Schools, Oxford Public Schools, Parent Child Resource Center, The Salvation Army, Seymour/Oxford Food Bank, Seymour Public Schools, Shelton Public Schools, Spooner House, St. Vincent De Paul, and The Umbrella Center for Domestic Violence Services.