By Yahaira Escribano, Partner Programs Coordinator, Foodshare

Foodshare and HPL began their partnership on October 2020 as a snack program. We both felt there was a need to better serve our youths, especially after school. During this time, we spoke of the potential of expanding their services by helping families who are food insecure through a HPL pantry in the future. Unfortunately, COVID-19 hit us and we had to take a pause in our joint efforts until we had a better sense of how to safely serve our community members. As soon as  COVID-19 hit, we all witnessed unemployment skyrocket and the number of families in need of nutritional assistance increase drastically. After a couple of months of all us figuring out how to best navigate COVID-19 and continue offering needed services to our community, Foodshare and HPL picked-up our conversation about establishing and executing the HPL Pantry sooner than later to meet the unprecedented and growing needs in our community.

The north-end of Hartford has the most social and economic disparities in our community and it has been one of the hardest hit neighborhoods during COVID-19. I strongly believe HPL is one of our strongest anchor institutions in Hartford. HPL is not just a traditional Public library; the HPL offers various holistic services to our community. The HPL and all their branches are at the center of our communities. Community members’ love, trust, and know they can receive assistance and help from the library. I feel and share these sentiments because I was born and raised in the north-end, specifically on Martin Street and I used to go to the Barbour Branch as much as possible. The library was influential for me and I see the library as a safe haven for so many of us are hit hard, and struggling to get by for various reasons, and now by having the ability to safely and sustainability offer emergency food assistance to those of us who are in need is going to transformative and life changing for our community members.

As we grow our partnership, our goal is to sustainably and safely expand our emergency food pantry services to the other branches so we are all able to meet and reach more community members right in their neighborhood. By integrating an emergency food pantry as part of the various services and programs that are offered, I strongly believe that the HPL will be able to remove the difficult decision and barrier people are facing on deciding whether or not to one  your programs or other services, like your GED programs, in order to find some type of temporary work to get food on the table. By removing this one barrier, community members will be better able to access all the other services and programs the HPL has to offer. Overall, we hope that we will all continue to increase the impact of this service throughout Hartford so more households’ basic needs are being met.

For more information about Foodshare, visit foodshare.org.


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