EAST HAVEN, CT — As of late August, the federal Farmers to Families Food Box Program distributed nearly 90 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In East Haven, more than 200 families have come to rely on the boxes of fresh vegetables and fruits straight from Cecarelli’s Harrison Hill Farm in Northford.
“We’re dealing with the most high-risk population,” East Haven Pre-K and Family Resource Center program manager Marissa Velazquez said. “One of our biggest goals was bringing the food to the families who have been struggling.”
The program in East Haven has brought boxes packed with farm-fresh foods to families in need. With Velazquez coordinating, the program has been a success, she said, due in large measure to those involved.
“We have an amazing team here, it’s not a one man show. You can’t do it by yourself. The people here floor me with their amazing dedication. Providing food security is a huge undertaking and it takes a dedicated team to do so. East Haven truly has some amazing people who care about the children and families,” she said.
The program includes the participation and cooperation of the Connecticut Food Bank, William Dellacamera of Farmer to Families, Cecarelli’s Harrison Farm in Northford, and schools administrators and staff including superintendent Erica Forti, business manager Lynn Boisvert, Family Resource Center Lead Parent Educator Sherri Franceschi and the entire staff of the Overbrook Early Learning Center Staff & Family Resource Center Staff and Sodexo general manager Linda Stanisci, Velazquez said.
We have been a small part of this 26,900 in 12 weeks but still a part that is 2241 boxes a week of the finest produce around
Posted by Cecarellis” class=”redactor-linkify-object”>https://www.facebook.com/Cecar… Harrison Hill Farm on Thursday, September 10, 2020
Cecarelli’s Harrison Hill Farm in Northford has been packing boxes filled with lettuces, kale, zucchini, red beets, and strawberries and more as part of the program for several months. In fact, the farm has provided 26,900 boxes in 12 weeks, or “…2,241 boxes a week of the finest produce around.”
“It truly takes a village. Without everyone working together this could never be possible. I am fortunate enough to be able to work in a district that values children and families and has a passion to serve,” Velazquez said, helping praise on Forti for her “support and guidance.”
Now, Velazquez said, she’s looking to get a grant extension to continue the program and has written the USDA in hopes the program can continue into the school year.
“Food has become such a serious issue for the families of our community during these unprecedented times,” she wrote.
Explaining that East Haven was able to reopen its preschool program in mid-July, she said the every-Thursday food boxes were distributed by she and her staff when families came to pick up their children at the end of the day.
“The food boxes provided each family with healthy choices, and I witnessed their gratefulness, and for many a relief they had food,” Velazquez said. “This program is essential to our community.”
Folks who received the boxes agreed.
“I hope this program continues and other local farmers start to participate with school districts so more families have the opportunity to experience farm fresh vegetables on their tables,” wrote Heather Mazzucco.
Patch has partnered with Feeding America to help raise awareness on behalf of the millions of Americans facing hunger. Feeding America, which supports 200 food banks across the country, estimates that in 2020, more than 54 million Americans will not have enough nutritious food to eat due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a Patch social good project; Feeding America receives 100 percent of donations. Find out how you can donate in your community or find a food pantry near you.