WALLINGFORD — In response to the growing need of emergency food support, the Point32Health Foundation donated a total of $700,000 to food banks across the region, including $100,000 to Connecticut Foodshare.
The Connecticut Foodshare is the state-wide foodbank of Connecticut, located at 2 Research Parkway in Wallingford. Beverly Catchpole, chief giving officer, said she has seen an increase in the need for food during a time of inflation.
Donations, such as the one from the Point32Health Foundation, help Connecticut Foodshare with purchasing and delivering food.
“The need is so strong and we’ve had to purchase a lot of food so I tell everyone that their donation is really helping us to purchase food, which is a cost that we really didn’t have much of before the pandemic,” Catchpole said. “The cost of food and the amount of food that we’re having to purchase has increased greatly. Those funds help with that.”
Catchpole said nearly 400,000 people in Connecticut are food insecure, which includes one in eight children. During the height of the pandemic, that number rose to over 425,000 people.
“We’ve seen the number come down after COVID and we were encouraged by that but still not to pre-pandemic levels,” Catchpole said. “And then inflation hit. People have had a really hard time making ends meet so we’ve seen the need rising again.”
Phillip González, director of community investments for the Point32Health Foundation, said he has heard from the food banks that they are “facing and working through some pretty specific challenges.”
“Inflation is having an outside impact on the organization,” González said. “The cost of food has increased, but also the cost of transporting and distributing the food.”
So in response to the need, González said the foundation wanted to help through the grants. These grants went to food banks in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Each bank received $100,000.
“As we talked to the food banks, knowing how critical they are to food access in each of our states, we wanted to step up and provide resources so that they can continue to do this vital work,” González said.
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan combined to create Point32Health. These two companies’ foundations, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation and Tufts Health Plan Foundation, were put together to create Point32Health Foundation.
González said across the five states that the foundation serves, they work on three areas of focus: access to healthy food, healthy aging in older adults and behavioral health.
The foundation is able to make donations due to the support it has received from its company.
“The foundation is generously supported by the company through an endowment, so we operate like many other philanthropies in that there is an endowment that we draw resources from to be able to make grants for the community,” González said.
González said that when the foundation donates to nonprofit organizations, such as the food banks, it gives them the flexibility to do whatever is needed.
“They have the flexibility to decide how to utilize their resources to best serve community needs,” González said. “In the case of Connecticut Foodshare, they have been innovative in terms of their developing strategy and executing. They have a meal gap analysis that they’re working from to really understand how they are addressing access to food, but also disparities that exist.”
Right now, Catchpole said Connecticut Foodshare is always looking for monetary donations and food donations. Connecticut Foodshare is also able to hold virtual food drives.
“One dollar allows us to buy two meals, so that is very helpful, but we are also accepting food donations, so people can make a gift of food and we also have the ability to set up a virtual food drive so organizations and corporations and groups of people can set up a virtual food drive with us where they give us funds virtually to purchase food as well,” Catchpole said. “You can do all those things for Connecticut Foodshare and we also encourage you to volunteer at your local food pantry.”