In the weeks leading up to today’s holiday, traditionally known for its feasts, Connecticut students and residents aimed to raise awareness of those who struggle to get enough to eat.
The Connecticut Food Bank put out an appeal for increased donations on Monday, saying it was about 1,800 turkeys short of its “Thanksgiving For All” campaign. By the end of the day on Tuesday, the response had brought them on par with last year's collection.
In 2010, the organization collected 24,000 turkeys and enough food for an estimated 790,000 meals. The problem this year, the Connecticut Food Bank reported, was that its member food organizations were reporting about a 30 percent increase in demand.
The sees increased donations of Thanksgiving foods such as turkeys around the holiday, but the center itself is closed for the holiday. A pair of community Thanksgiving feasts is still available in the region, however. From noon to 3 p.m. today, the Calvary Chapel of Uncasville will host the meal at the . St. Vincent de Paul Place in Norwich is also holding meals at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Peta Madry, manager of the Community Meal Center, said the holiday donations don’t go to waste. Rather, the turkeys are frozen and used in other meals provided by the center.
“I’m just using up my last turkeys from last year,” she said.
Katherine Sebastian Dring, working leader at the , said the center supports about 18,000 people in the region through 93 programs each month. For the Thanksgiving season, it distributed 1,800 turkeys and a variety of other foodstuffs.
“We are very fortunate to be supported by a tremendously giving community year round and once again they have helped us to meet the rising need of those struggling with hunger and missing meals during these tough times,” said Dring.
Dring said Milton Cook deserves credit for heading up the Southeastern Connecticut Thanksgiving Committee in connection with the center’s efforts.
Among the hunger awareness efforts in schools was a canned food drive at that sought donations for the Gemma E. Moran Center about two weeks. The Interact Club, a community service oriented student group associated with the Rotary Club of New London, spearheaded the effort.
“It’s been a little slow,” said Lisa Tuccio, an adviser to the club. “I think there’s so much going on, so many fundraisers. There’s only so much people can do.”
has traditionally held a hunger awareness event in the week of Thanksgiving. Their usual morning snack is canceled, and the lunch is a simple meal of beans and rice. The proceeds from the regular lunch purchases, along with special $3.50 tickets purchased by students, go toward the New London and Norwich Community Meal Centers as well as the .
“It’s kind of cool that they incorporate it,” said senior Leah Valletta of the lunch. “It’s more effective than just trying to raise money.”
The Service Committee, a student organization, also focused on hunger and spoke about the issue at a Monday assembly. Students in the club said the best way their classmates could help fight hunger would be to volunteer at the local food centers.
“We have really passionate students,” said Tekla Zweir, the Service Committee coordinator. “This year, they wanted to really focus on local hunger.”