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As food insecurity grows in CT, lawmakers and advocates call attention to legislative inaction

FILE: At the start of the 2022 school year, attendees of Angel of Edgewood's Back to School Extravaganza pick up fresh produce early Saturday morning. As one of the largest back-to-school events in the area, it provides Hartford families with back-to-school supplies, food, clothing and basic necessities to set them up for success at the start of school.
Greg Miller
/
Connecticut Public
FILE: At the start of the 2022 school year, attendees of Angel of Edgewood's Back to School Extravaganza pick up fresh produce early Saturday morning. As one of the largest back-to-school events in the area, it provides Hartford families with back-to-school supplies, food, clothing and basic necessities to set them up for success at the start of school . State Rep. Eleni Kavros DeGraw said about a report of nearly half a million Connecticut residents who didn't have enough food to eat in 2022, “We say it all the time about our kids, that they can't learn if they have empty bellies. But I also think about your seniors, think about your families.”

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Food insecurity in Connecticut is growing, alarming advocates and lawmakers following the release of a new nationwide report that says nearly half a million state residents didn't have enough food to eat in 2022.

That equates to about one out of every eight people in Connecticut, a 23% increase in statewide food insecurity from the year prior, according to Feeding America’s 2022 report.

A group of lawmakers and advocates called attention to the higher rates — and inaction — surrounding the problem on Wednesday.

One bipartisan bill this legislative session proposed adding $10 million to the Connecticut Nutrition Assistance Program, or CT-NAP. That money would have been used to purchase food for eligible shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries. But the effort didn’t pass in the state legislature. State Rep. Eleni Kavros DeGraw is already looking ahead to the next regular session.

“We have to start thinking about the budget next year and how we're going to move forward to help the residents of Connecticut and make sure that they are fed,” Kavros Degraw said. “We say it all the time about our kids, that they can't learn if they have empty bellies. But I also think about your seniors, think about your families.”

The proposal failed to move out of the Appropriations Committee when lawmakers didn’t make formal adjustments to the state budget. Being an odd-numbered year, they will craft a new biennium budget when they resume their work in January.

The rate of Connecticut children also not having enough to eat went up as well, the report shows: from one in eight in 2021, to one in six in 2022.

Jason Jakubowski, with Connecticut Foodshare, said the state currently spends $850,000 a year on CT-NAP, but needs to spend much more.

“To say I'm disappointed that nothing happened with the bill that these fine individuals promoted in the last session would be an understatement,” Jakubowski said alongside state policymakers. “But we also know that these things happen incrementally.”

FILE: Jason Jakubowski, President & CEO of Connecticut Foodshare.
Tyler Russell
/
Connecticut Public
FILE: Jason Jakubowski, President & CEO of Connecticut Foodshare.

As Connecticut Public's state government reporter, Michayla focuses on how policy decisions directly impact the state’s communities and livelihoods. She has been with Connecticut Public since February 2022, and before that was a producer and host for audio news outlets around New York state. When not on deadline, Michayla is probably outside with her rescue dog, Elphie. Thoughts? Jokes? Tips? Email msavitt@ctpublic.org.