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Increased demand for food assistance will continue, Connecticut food pantry says

Volunteers Marcus Alexander and Jack Goodman fill bags at a New Haven pantry.
Melanie Stengel
Volunteers Marcus Alexander and Jack Goodman fill bags at a New Haven pantry.

In West Haven, a local food pantry called WHEAT will share information with the public on Thursday about food scarcity in the community and how the nonprofit is tackling the issue.

WHEAT distributes food to about 300 to 350 families a month – a number that’s gone up during the pandemic. And WHEAT Executive Director Rose Majestic doesn’t see the demand decreasing soon. She cited extended unemployment and stimulus checks stopping, among other factors.

“The issue with hunger is that if you're not making a workable wage, and have affordable housing, you are always going to have a situation where people are paying their rent, their utilities, their health insurance and their other bills before they buy food,” Majestic said.

WHEAT now distributes food twice a month, up from once a month. Families can get up to 50 pounds of food per visit. Majestic attributed the organization’s ability to meet increased demand to getting more food from the Connecticut Foodshare program.

The goal of this week’s public presentation, Majestic said, is to help residents understand why people need her group’s resources.

“And to just open their eyes to the issue of food insecurity, and what exactly is food insecurity,” Majestic said.

The 2020 U.S. census reports that 37% of West Haven households with more than one person over 60 were registered for food stamps. In 2010, that number was 31%.

And Feeding America says 1 in 8 people across Connecticut face hunger.

WHEAT’s presentation is 1 p.m. Thursday at the West Haven Library. For more information, visit westhavenlibrary.org or call 203-937-4233, ext 3. Registration is required and can be done in an online form.

Michayla Savitt is a summer 2022 newsroom intern at Connecticut Public, and covers environment and health issues. When she’s not on the air, Michayla is finishing up her graduate degree at the CUNY School of Journalism, exploring New York City, and hanging out with her toothless cat.
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