Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba, Children’s HealthWatch Research and Policy Director, spoke on a panel at the “Rich State, Empty Plates” symposium in Connecticut.

Panelists Say Hunger is Spreading in Connecticut; Solution Requires Wider Perspective

A widespread paradigm shift in how hunger is acknowledged, viewed, and addressed is needed as a long-term solution to the increasing number of people who are hungry or otherwise food-insecure.

“We’re trying to move people away from the idea that emergency food is the answer,” said Lucy P. Nolan, executive director of End Hunger Connecticut! at the group’s first symposium — “Rich State, Empty Plates” — Thursday at Middlesex Community College. “We’re looking at wages and how hunger impacts health, education and the achievement gap.”

About 175 people attended the symposium, which included presentations and the chance for small-group brain-storming sessions on policy options and activities to address issues that compound hunger and that hunger exacerbates. The symposium was aimed at lawmakers and agencies that work with low-income people.

Poor nutrition among infants and young children can slow development and lead to repeated illnesses, noted Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba, research and policy director for Children’s HealthWatch. One idea being considered in some areas is having hospitals and health centers screen patients for food insecurity and have the means in-house to sign them up for benefits, she said.