by Kimberly James
As benefits such as the enhanced child tax credit end and inflation increases, more Connecticut residents are facing food insecurity.
As DataHaven reports that 17% of Connecticut adults have been unable to afford food at some point in the past year, Julieth Callejas, who serves as executive director of End Hunger Connecticut, told The Center Square in an exclusive interview that many factors contribute to the trend. The percentage is the highest in the last five years.
“Things like wage gaps, disability, healthcare, housing, transportation, adequate food access, childcare expenses, and more can influence someone’s ability to afford enough food for themselves and/or their families,” Callejas said. “Hunger does not have a face; it can affect anyone. When so many were suddenly out of work when the pandemic struck, it really highlighted that many people are one missed paycheck away from being hungry or food insecure.”
End Hunger Connecticut’s SNAP Call Center fielded more than 20,000 calls for assistance with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the first few months of 2020.
“To date, we know the extra benefits families have been getting as part of pandemic relief, like extra SNAP benefits and Pandemic-EBT, have provided critical support, especially as inflation and the rising prices of things like food and childcare present further challenges,” Callejas said. “Once pandemic benefits end, we know it will be a blow to many households, but we are grateful to the state’s recent participation in boosting SNAP and supporting other assistance efforts.”
As of Oct. 1, Connecticut has joined 19 other states and Washington, D.C. in offering SNAP applicants the maximized gross income limit allowable under federal rules.
“The Connecticut Department of Social Service estimates that not only will current participants see a more than 12% increase in their benefits, but an additional 44,000 Connecticut residents in 17,600 households are now potentially eligible with this expansion, which also confers eligibility to many other assistance programs throughout the state,” Callejas said. “This is a huge step in the right direction to ensuring increased access for struggling households and lifting more residents out of poverty.”
Although End Hunger CT! is not a food pantry, Callejas said the organization constantly partners with other organizations that distribute food and recommend those in need to those organizations.
“End Hunger CT! offers SNAP assistance through our Call Center, which operates seven-days-a-week with flexible appointments to help residents apply for benefits and manage their accounts throughout the process,” Callejas said. “Other critical resources include CT Foodshare, United Way’s 211 tool, and farmers’ markets offering incentives for low-income households across the state.”
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Kimberly James is a contributor to The Center Square.