In 2019, food insecurity levels in the United States were the lowest they had been since Feeding America began measuring it in the 1990s. But economic harm from COVID-19 drove more people to visit food banks, including those who had never visited before in 2020. Feeding America estimates that 1 in 7 Americans, or 45 million people, experienced food insecurity and an additional 17 million people experienced very low food security in 2020 – 15 million more people than in 2019.
In Connecticut, regional food bank Foodshare met this increased demand by setting up drive-through food banks at the University of Connecticut’s Rentschler Field in East Hartford. The football stadium served as the perfect location for the thousands of cars picking up food each day.
“At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Foodshare immediately assessed the situation and rapidly pivoted its operations to ensure that we could help provide food to the people in Connecticut who were newly food insecure,” said Dom Piccini, Foodshare’s logistics manager. “On April 20, 2020, Foodshare launched a temporary emergency distribution site at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. [Through March 2021], this site alone has provided over 6.7 million meals to nearly 250,000 households.”
But they needed the food to get to the stadium. So they enlisted the help of Centerline Drivers, who began providing daily drivers for the site and hired new drivers based on the need.
“Our team made sure that the drivers understood what they were working for and how they would be making a difference,” said Centerline Account Manager David Houlihan. “We wanted to put drivers in there who wanted to be part of this amazing project of feeding Connecticut’s hungry families.”
As Centerline and Foodshare approached the one-year anniversary of the East Hartford distribution site, the mutual partnership led to a recommendation for Centerline to begin work with The Connecticut Food Bank. The new work will open up the opportunity to provide food to nearly every person in Connecticut who needs it.
“Foodshare is thankful for our partnership with Centerline, helping to place and hire expertly matched drivers for our organization,” Piccini said. “Our transportation department is key to ensuring our community struggling with hunger is receiving the food they need in a timely and safe manner.”