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Freshplace Fills a Connecticut Food Gap

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May 31, 2011

HARTFORD, Conn. - You may still be feeling quite full from that cookout over the holiday weekend, but a recent report says many in Connecticut are still feeling hunger pangs. The Feeding America report says a food-insecure person living in Connecticut averages three missed meals per week, or 144 annually. The report says there are more than 131,000 food-insecure people in the greater Hartford area alone. Advocates for the hungry say one answer is programs that feature so-called "wrap-around" services that not only feed the hungry, but teach them how to lift themselves out of poverty.

One such program in the greater Hartford area is Freshplace. University of Connecticut professor Katie Martin has been studying the effectiveness of the wrap-around approach, and she says solving the root problems of hunger is key.

"That's trying to tap into all the reasons why people may need food in the first place, which incorporates much broader issues dealing with poverty and other skill sets."

Martin says her initial research indicates the wrap-around approach is more effective. Freshplace, a collaborative project of Foodshare, the Chrysalis Center, and The Junior League of Hartford, operates in Hartford's Upper Albany neighborhood. They provide not only food, but information on food stamps, health services, crisis intervention programs, public assistance, and various educational opportunities.

Gloria McAdam of Foodshare says the key to success is breaking the cycle that keeps sending people in ever-increasing numbers to food pantries.

"Our mission has always been to end hunger, not just to feed people, because we know if we just feed people, they'll be back next week, next month or next year, looking for more food."

McAdam says food distribution alone will never be a long-term solution.

The report is at feedingamerica.org

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - CT