HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont, Lt. Gov Susan Bysiewicz and state Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt have announced the launch of a new initiative to provide emergency food resources to Connecticut’s food pantries as the state continues to respond to the ongoing impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the initiative, food pantries in need of assistance can visit CTPantryResources.com, where they can connect to resources on food procurement and distribution, volunteer assistance, shipping and storage supports and more.

“Our food pantries and nonprofit partners continue to be valuable resources, and we want to support them and the services they provide as much as possible,” Gov. Lamont said. “I encourage these organizations to visit this website and input their information so that we can connect and supply these food boxes to those in need.”

The state Department of Agriculture is now utilizing the website to facilitate statewide distribution of U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmers-to-Families Food Boxes Saturday, October 31. Interested food pantries or other parties must fill out an online form on the website to express their interest in receiving food boxes and confirm the ability to meet the following requirements:

Able to accept at least nine pallets containing 576 food boxes and nine pallets of milk containing 576 gallons; ability to unload the trailer using a pallet jack and/or forklift and/or loading dock;

Provide on-site point of contact to receive and/or manage distribution of boxes, and provide immediate distribution or have access to refrigerated storage.

Organizations that are unable to meet the criteria should contact their local emergency management director, who will connect them to regional coordinated efforts.

Connecticut has been designated a high-priority area by the USDA for distribution of Famers-to-Families Food Boxes. As such, more than 30 trailer loads will be delivered per week. Each trailer will contain 1,152 food boxes with five pounds of meat, five pounds of dairy, 12 pounds of produce and one gallon of milk.

Earlier this year, Gov. Lamont tasked Commissioner Hurlburt to identify weaknesses in emergency feeding and long-term response of the food supply chain in Connecticut during the Covid-19 pandemic. Under Commissioner Hurlburt’s direction, the Department of Agriculture collaborated with the Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the five regional coordinators and End Hunger Connecticut to develop a strategic approach to distribution of the USDA’s food boxes.

“As our team started to work with partners to better understand the challenges food pantries face, it became apparent that many were overwhelmed by the increased numbers of people they were serving as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Commissioner Hurlburt said. “We can now utilize the website to coordinate the vast amount of information in a system way that makes it easier to deliver the food and for our pantries to distribute food.”

In addition to providing the ability to sign up for food box distribution, CTPantryResources.com includes mapping tools to identify high-need areas with lack of resources. These maps can help pantries assess the potential demand they could face as unemployment benefits change and demand for food supports increase.

“Over the past few months as I’ve joined Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare in distributing food to those in need, the number of residents lining up to receive basic pantry staples reminds me of the stories my grandparents used to share about the bread lines during the Great Depression,” Lt. Gov. Bysiewicz said. “As we continue to fight food insecurity in our state, our food pantries and nonprofit partners have been our boots on the ground. That’s why it’s so critical to ensure they have access to the resources needed for food procurement and distribution, volunteers, and storage, so they can continue to be a lifeline for so many families across our state.”

As Connecticut prepares to respond to a potential resurgence of the virus, equipping food pantries with tools and resources to help them plan and prepare are a vital component to Connecticut’s response. However, the existing feeding programs cannot be ignored. While the website is geared toward food pantries, it also provides information for those experiencing food insecurity.

By directing those in need to 2-1-1 for immediate attention and providing links on eligibility for programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Farmers Market Nutrition Program; Women, Infants, and Children, and mobile food bank schedules, residents can increase access to nutritious food.

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