Connecticut Food Bank News - Winter 2021

Clubs and Organizations

February 18, 2021

Food for Today, Hope for Tomorrow

“We think about food insecurity and we think about it in places in rural America or the inner city. We’re not thinking about the fact that it is your next door neighbor,” explained Al Roker. “You see families come through. It breaks your heart, and we’re going into the holidays. This is the greatest, richest country in the world. This should not be happening.”

As part of TODAY’s Season of Giving series, the TODAY Show teamed up with Feeding America to bring awareness to the nationwide crisis. Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare were grateful to be featured in this massive awareness event, showing a glimpse into emergency food distributions all over the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday, December 15, Al Roker reported from our emergency drive-thru food distribution in East Hartford; which has served hundreds of thousands of people from the start of the pandemic. According to Feeding America, more than 50 million people nationwide will not have “adequate access” to nutritious food during the pandemic. This national awareness event, which also included a donation of 40,000 meals from PepsiCo to Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare, raised more than $2 million from viewers to help fight against hunger across America.

A Word From Our President: Jason Jakubowski

For many of us, 2020 was the single most challenging year of our lives, both personally and professionally. When the pandemic struck, food banks across the nation had to immediately pivot their entire operation. In Connecticut, food insecurity is estimated to have increased need in services.

Collectively, we served hundreds of thousands of people throughout our state, many of them experiencing food insecurity for the first time. What we accomplished together as a community is something I will personally cherish for the rest of my life.

Most of us are genuinely happy for brighter days ahead – but we have to remember that we are still in the middle of a dangerous global pandemic. More than half a million Connecticut residents are still food insecure, unemployment rates remain high, and our country as a whole will continue to be in a period of self-reflection for the foreseeable future. 2021 will unquestionably bring its challenges, but our obligation to the people we serve is more steadfast than ever... and it has been significantly strengthened by a historic merger between Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare. We are excited for all of the new opportunities that this merger will bring to the people in Connecticut who struggle with hunger. We remain committed to serving our network of 700+ partner agencies and collaborating with the broader community to build effective solutions to end hunger. Change is never easy – and we do have a lot of it headed our way. But if there is one thing we learned throughout our 2020, it’s that we can accomplish anything together.

Be well,
Jason Jakubowski
President & CEO

Thanksgiving: Transforming an Uncertain Holiday

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic meant that families couldn’t gather as they normally do, “Friendsgiving” celebrations had to take place online and, sadly, thousands mourned the loss of loved ones. In light of these hardships, Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare understood that the annual Thanksgiving for All Project and Turkey and Thirty campaigns would look different but were more important than ever before.

Foodshare was not able to host any of its traditional community Turkey and Thirty drives throughout Greater Hartford and the need for turkeys was at an all-time high of over 20,000 households; an additional 4,000 more than the year before. Thankfully with the support of the community, the drives turned into online fundraisers and individuals and corporate partners stepped up to support the increased need.

A special thank you to all of our Turkey and Thirty partners and supporters,, some of which include Bank of America, Jack Bannan Memorial Turkey Trot, The Antonacci Family Foundation, The Hometown Foundation, LEGO Systems, Lincoln Financial, Miller Farms, NBC Connecticut Stop & Shop, Talcott, The River 105.9’s Renee DiNino, and WFSB’s Scot Haney. With your support we raised nearly $700,000.

Connecticut Food Bank’s Thanksgiving for All Campaign was an all-hands-on-deck effort. Corporate partners including Cigna, Stop & Shop, A-1 Toyota, Avangrid, Connecticut Distributors, Post Road Iron Works, and Penfield Marine generously stepped up as sponsors. Other long-time friends like WTNH News 8, Star 99.9 FM and WPLR 99.1 worked tirelessly as they hosted community food and fund drives. KC101 hosted the Stuff-A-Bus in Hamden Plaza for the thirtieth year!

Thanks to dozens of businesses, organizations and individuals, Connecticut Food Bank raised nearly $870,000 to help support the distribution of over 20,000 turkeys and food for their member agencies so that families across Connecticut could enjoy a wholesome and heartwarming holiday meal.

A Milestone to Celebrate: Connecticut Food Bank Reaches One Million Donation

When Connecticut Food Bank was founded in 1982, no one would have imagined the community impact and the need of one million gifts. In November, that milestone was reached thanks to the Purkiss family of Ridgefield. The Purkiss family – husband and wife Allen and Shira along with four daughters – have been Connecticut Food Bank donors since 2011 and monthly sustaining donors since 2015. To honor their commitment to our work, Connecticut Food Bank staff visited with Allen, Shira and daughter Charlotte to ask what inspires their continued support.

“The fact that we live in the state of Connecticut and to find that there are people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from was a shock to us actually,” said Allen. Looking at his wife, he continued, “We thought that might exist in other parts of the country, but we didn’t think that would exist in Connecticut.” Born in the UK, Shira shared her perspective: “It’s an extraordinary thing to discover there is so much poverty and such need for food. We believe in treating other people as we would like to be treated... and we believe wholeheartedly inthis enterprise.”

When asked why they give monthly, Allen shared that they are able to give more than if they made one annual donation. “It’s so easy to do, it means so much, and it goes so far. We’re just one in a million – literally!” Thank you Purkiss family, for making all that we do possible.

A Senior Class Gift to Remember: Local Students Support

The rites of passage for a high school senior – senior prom, senior picnic, award ceremonies, graduation – are both anticipated and remembered by all who get to share them. And in traditional fashion, the Glastonbury High School class of 2020 was eager to host these hallmark events, only to see them dashed by the COVID-19 crisis and restrictions on gatherings.

Impressively, the senior class raised more than $35,000 through senior class dues and bake sale proceeds but had no events on which to spend it. At the guidance of their class advisors, Jennifer Ware and Nina Skarvelas, the six senior student government officers gathered virtually to determine how to proceed. “They decided to ask the students if they wanted their dues back, or if they wanted to donate to Foodshare,” Principal Nancy Bean shared. “Nearly 100% of the students chose to donate to Foodshare.”

Principal Bean went on to say, “I am so proud of the class of 2020 to look beyond themselves. They truly live up to our mission statement: to empower students to shape their lives and our world.’” Dr. Alan Bookman, Superintendent of Glastonbury Schools added, “When I heard the news, I was not surprised. These students have consistently shown their care for others.”  And that care will provide 87,500 meals to our neighbors in need. Hats off to the Glastonbury High School class of 2020!

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