‘Witnesses to Hunger’ Exhibit Demonstrated Need for Strengthening Federal Policies
National project came to New Haven to draw attention to food insecurity in Connecticut
In September 2014, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and the City of New Haven Mayor’s Office joined End Hunger Connecticut!, New Haven Food Policy Council, Drexel University Center for Hunger-Free Communities and Community Alliance for Research and Engagement, at the launch of New Haven’s ‘Witnesses to Hunger’ exhibit, which features original photography and first-hand accounts from parents who have experienced hunger and poverty.
“I first saw the Witness to Hunger exhibit in Washington in April, and I was moved by it. I am so glad we could bring it to New Haven and incorporate local stories into the project. This exhibit is a powerful reminder of the realities of hunger and its impact on our communities. Here in New Haven, nearly one in three residents do not know where their next meal is coming from and in our most economically challenged neighborhoods, as many as 40% are struggling every day to put food on the table.” said DeLauro. “It is my hope that this exhibit will spark a local conversation on how we, as a community, can re-commit to the fight to end hunger here and across America for good. We have the ability, we have the means, we have the capacity – – we only need the will to do what is right.”
“This exhibition shows in exquisite detail the universal, core-level vulnerability among the chronically hungry. As mayor, I think it’s important to showcase these photographs at City Hall as a reminder of hunger in our midst – I’m grateful to Rep. DeLauro for arranging to have these vivid images here in New Haven,” Mayor Toni N. Harp said. “The timing of this exhibition coincides with a local opportunity we have to build on our food system with donations to match a grant from the Kendall Foundation, and I encourage local groups and businesses to consider doing so.”
Witnesses to Hunger convened with community partners and photographers from the City of New Haven to engage in a conversation about hunger and poverty in Connecticut, with a focus on the greater New Haven area. Of note, 31% of New Haven residents are considered food insecure, rates of food insecurity in low-income neighborhoods are 10% higher than the overall city’s rate, and 10,000 children in New Haven qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
“I am humbled by the courage of the photographers featured in this exhibit,” Alycia Santilli Chair, New Haven Food Policy Council; Director of Community Initiatives, CARE. ”They experience hunger first-hand every day and have given us a glimpse into their lives. But they are not alone in their experience. In the Hill neighborhood alone, one-half of families go hungry. We have a responsibility to the children and families of New Haven to ensure each one has enough fresh, healthy food.”
“We’re pleased to aid in the launch of New Haven’s ‘Witnesses to Hunger’ exhibit which offers a deeper perspective on food insecurity in greater New Haven,” Lucy Nolan, Executive Director, End Hunger Connecticut!, said. “These photos tell a powerful story. Thankfully, there is a strong network of community partners in the city and a powerful anti-hunger advocate in Congresswoman DeLauro. Together, we are working to improve access to food for Connecticut residents and to ensure federal policies are helping us to meet the needs of the hungry in our own communities.”
Prior Witnesses to Hunger sites include: Baltimore, Boston, Camden and Philadelphia.
This Spring, EHC! co-convened #TalkCTPoverty Day at the Capitol with other state advocates to discuss CT poverty and issues related to poverty with legislators. Poverty in Connecticut is on the rise and budget cuts threaten the longevity of state services vital to residents living in poverty. Hosted by Connecticut Alliance for Basic Human Needs (CABHN), the Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS), Connecticut Association for Community Action (CAFCA), CT Voices for Children, and End Hunger Connecticut!, this event featured remarks from legislators on the state of these proposed budget cuts and remarks from advocates on the importance of preserving funding for vital programs. It was part of a broader effort by community partners to raise awareness of poverty in Connecticut. Participants were active through twitter, Instagram and Facebook at a photo booth using #TalkCTPoverty. A snapshot of poverty in Connecticut:
- 374,000 state resident are below the Federal Poverty Line, up from 321,000 in 2011
- Poverty in the state increased by 17 percent between 2008 and 2013.
- In 2013 113,000 children lived in poverty, up from 97,000 in 2009. Poverty rates vary greatly by race.
- Close to 12 percent of households in Connecticut are food insecure, lacking access to enough food to meet their needs.
These disparities extend to low-income working families. In Connecticut, there are 77,161 low-income working families, meaning their total income fell below 200 percent of the official poverty rate. Read Legal Assistance Resource Center’s 2015 Town-by-Town to find out how many people in each district in Connecticut rely on social services, are unemployed, or live in poverty: http://larcc.org/node/2084
End Hunger Connecticut! connected Grace with SNAP benefits so she could feed her family while she finished her job training program and searched for full-time employment.
If you know someone experiencing hunger, encourage them to call our SNAP Call Center at (866) 974-SNAP to see if they may be eligible for SNAP benefits.