Food Insecurity Demands Year Around Attention
It is summer and for many, a carefree time. But plagued by food insecurity, summer living loses its sense of ease for some within our borders.
The June 17 Newtown Commission On Aging minutes note that 25 percent of elderly Americans report food insecurity; that is, “a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life,” according to the US Department of Agriculture. DataHaven, out of New Haven, reports that in our own community, there is a nine percent food insecurity issue.
Resident Sean Fitzpatrick goes further, declaring as much as 30 percent of Newtown households experience this lack of adequate food access. As reported in the July 5, 2019 Newtown Bee article, “Real Food Share Targets Food Insecurity,” Mr Fitzpatrick is fighting food insecurity through the creation of a farming organization and sharing that fresh food with local food pantries.
When vacation time waves its shiny distractions in front of us, regular habits of supporting helpful agencies fall by the wayside. FAITH Food Pantry, at 46 Church Hill Road, provides help to the at least 50 people each week dependent on this outlet. Summer brings increased needs, with children at home who might otherwise have benefited from school meal programs.
Approximately 25 people each week, this time of year, utilize the Salvation Army Food Pantry, currently located in Town Hall South, 3 Main Street, while others make use of pantries found within religious institutions. Aiding the effort to abate hunger, Newtown Meals On Wheels delivers meals to the housebound, some of whom may not otherwise have access to a healthy meal while indisposed.
Summer is not a carefree time for the hungry; going without a meal so that children can eat or families skipping meals entirely is unacceptable. Twenty-nine percent of our residents fall into the United Way ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed) category. Hunger is just a step away for many of the working poor and for those who encounter temporary financial difficulties.
So what do we do? Continue to provide support to organizations like Meals On Wheels or to local food pantries with donations of the most-needed food and household items, as much as one is able. Summer is no time to slack off.
Support those organizations that host fundraising events to offset hunger. The Newtown Knights of Columbus-St Vigilius Council 185 hosted the annual Run4Hunger in June. Through participation, the Knights were able to present FAITH Food Pantry with a check for $4,321. Cash donations allow food pantry “shoppers” to supplement the donations with needed items.
Be aware, and be sensitive. Your elderly neighbor or young family next door may be suffering in silence. A gentle conversation or even an anonymous note can inform them of the help available locally.
If you are concerned about the welfare of a friend or neighbor or if you believe someone is food insecure, call Newtown Social Services at 203-270-4330, and a safe welfare check can be arranged.
Summertime — any time — is no time for food insecurity.