[Excerpt from Hearst CT / Journal-Inquirer Newspaper feature article by Jesse Leavenworth, July 19, 2023]

EAST HARTFORD — The town is partnering with the local Lions Club to provide fresh produce for residents who have trouble getting enough food, mostly because of inflation, officials have announced. The Lions donated $5,000 to help residents get fruits and vegetables provided by the East Hartford Farmers' Market. An estimated 18% of adult residents experience food insecurity, lacking money to buy food for themselves or their families, town officials said.

“Individuals and families have been negatively impacted by higher living expenses due to inflation, especially the cost of groceries,” Health Director Laurence Burnsed said.

Participants in the program, which is administered by town social services, must be low income East Hartford residents who are not receiving help from other government food voucher programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP), the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) farmers’ market nutrition program or the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).

The percentage of Connecticut adults who say they did not have enough money to buy food nearly doubled from 2021 to 2022, according to a survey by the nonprofit organization, DataHaven. The rate of food insecurity as of August 2022 — 17 percent of adults — was higher than DataHaven measured in 2015, 2018, mid-2020, and 2021, when just 10 percent of Connecticut adults reported food insecurity.

In August 2022, DataHaven and the Siena College Research Institute completed 1,196 interviews of randomly-selected adults in every town. The  survey carried a maximum margin of error of 3.2 percent, according to the New Haven-based organization.

The overall food insecurity rate of 17 percent masked large differences across the state by race, gender, age, income, disability and other factors, DataHaven reported. About 11 percent of white, 25 percent of Black and 34 percent of Latino adults reported food insecurity. Rates also varied from 13 percent among men to 20 percent among women, and from 14 percent among adults living without children to 23 percent among those with children. More than a quarter of young adults age 18 to 34 reported food insecurity, according to DataHaven.

The findings, according to the organization, mirror studies that show a rise in food insecurity across the nation. [....] 

The DataHaven survey showed that the rise in inflation also affected food insecurity. Overall, 68 percent of those surveyed said inflation affected their spending habits.

East Hartford residents interested in applying for the voucher program and those who have questions on eligibility or other assistance programs may contact social services at 860-291-7226 or 7248, or visit the office in Room 109 of the Community Cultural Center at 50 Chapman Place.