Connecticut Food Bank launched its Food Insecurity Research Consortium with a convening dinner at its headquarters in Wallingford on January 30. The Consortium seeks to better understand hunger in Connecticut and to identify and address interconnected challenges that drive food insecurity in low income households.
“We must look beyond providing food to people in need,” said Connecticut Food Bank CEO Valarie Shultz Wilson. “While that is the core of our mission, we will not move to a hunger free Connecticut if we are not helping people move from poverty and need to self-sufficiency.”
The Food Insecurity Research Consortium will be led by Connecticut Food Bank and driven by new levels of data analysis made possible through the implementation of Link2Feed data collection and analysis software.
“Link2Feed will help us gather, to our knowledge, the largest pool of data on low-income individuals seen in the state and help Connecticut Food Bank and our partners to tailor programs and services to best meet needs,” said Connecticut Food Bank Chief Programs Officer Jaime S. Foster, PhD, RD, who leads the Consortium.
Work began on the Consortium last fall. Foster said the goal was to build a community of stakeholders with diverse backgrounds but common threads to create powerful tools to address food insecurity. The January convening dinner brought together stakeholders, experts, and advocates in many disciplines to review and fine-tune the Consortium’s data collection inputs and goals.
“We want our research strategy to be guided by input from a diverse team of multi-disciplinary experts,” Foster said. Among the viewpoints included are individuals served by the Connecticut Food Bank network; leadership from Connecticut Food Bank partner agencies; Connecticut Food Bank volunteers; and experts in transportation, medicine, dietetics, health disparity research, social work, agriculture, and the retail food industry. “The group helps us reach beyond our area of focus to access other areas of expertise,” Foster said.
Foster said the Consortium will work to produce and share quality, accessible data to drive meaningful change in alleviating hunger in Connecticut.
“Working together, we can better understand the challenges facing people we serve,” Foster said. “Our goal is two-fold: increase knowledge and reduce hunger.”