HARTFORD, CT – The Salvation Army in Hartford is seeing a large increase of individuals and families seeking assistance at the food pantries at the Hartford Citadel on Washington Street as unemployment in Connecticut skyrockets.
On an average day, The Salvation Army’s Hartford Citadel food pantry would assist approximately 26 to 30 households. Before the COVID-19 crisis, the highest number of households served on any given day had been 35. Since Monday, March 23rd, the average has been 50. “We are serving many, many new families,” said Major JR Fritsch, Greater Hartford Area Services Coordinator. “It’s the most we have ever seen.”
The cost of food and the transportation of food has also increased. This is due in part to a limited amount of free and low-cost food items available at food banks. “We are not yet seeing the same level of influx at our North End location on Nelson Street,” said Brenda Downing, Divisional Social Services Director for The Salvation Army. “However, we are seeing an increase in need that we can only expect to continue to rise.” The Salvation Army’s Marshall House Family Shelter in Hartford and the family shelter in Waterbury remain open and are operating at full capacity.
Our Emergency Disaster Services department is coordinating with state and local leads to determine gap feeding needs for vulnerable populations across the state. Large food and supply donations have been received by Mohegan Sun, Mitchell College and MATTER. As of March 23rd, Midwest Foodbank has donated 320 food boxes, equaling 7,000 meals for Connecticut residents and 4,200 meals for Rhode Island residents. R & R Corrugated Packaging Group from Bristol, CT donated 10,000 boxes for food distribution.
We anticipate a significant increase in emergency assistance for low-wage employees who have been temporarily laid off due to the coronavirus. Types of additional support we want to be prepared to offer include utility and rent/mortgage assistance, along with food for families in need. We are also experiencing an increase in our budget line for food since guests in our residential programs are on-site more hours of the day; additionally, school-aged children who would normally benefit from the school lunch program, are now being fed on site.
We are praying for all who are adversely affected by the Covid-19 virus. Present in 131 countries around the world, The Salvation Army is serving unprecedented numbers of people due to this outbreak. We encourage everyone to find ways to demonstrate care and compassion to their neighbor in these times of difficulty.
For Connecticut: Text GIVECT to 71777
For Rhode Island: Text GIVERI to 71777