Marilyn Moore


Marilyn Moore



April 28, 2023

State Sen. Marilyn Moore (opinion): Filling in the blanks of hunger

Originally published in the Connecticut Post

For nearly 20 years I have worked to address hunger and access to quality food. There are so many people in food deserts, underserved communities and families who are food insecure. I have been an advocate calling to end hunger while supporting many food pantries over the years. I’ve served as board chair for End Hunger CT!, championed the creation of the first Food Policy Council in Bridgeport, and currently serve as the Connecticut ambassador for Food Solutions New England.

I’ve witnessed food drives, soup kitchens, community gardens and local farms in search of the answers to address food insecurity. I believe these all work together, but I have been critical of the quality of food and sugar-laden products often offered in “free food” programs that could lead to further health disparities.

Recently, I found a nonprofit organization that met all my wishes in helping children receive nourishing, love-infused nutrition with no strings attached. I visited Filling in the Blanks in Norwalk. Their mission: “Fight childhood hunger by providing children in need with meals on the weekend.” While their warehouse is in Norwalk, they service 5,000 children at 150 schools and community centers in Westchester and Fairfield counties. Collectively they have provided over 2 million meals through three programs — the school-year weekend meal program, the summer weekend meal program and the holiday backpack program. Each meal bag provided contained beans, milk, pasta, soup, nutrition bars, oatmeal, crackers and canned vegetables. They also provide snack bags and are looking to include hygiene bags for high school students.

According to Feeding America, more than 490,000 Connecticut residents struggle with hunger; more than 131,000 children are food insecure. Families shouldn’t have to choose between food or paying their utility bill. Children deserve food, and they deserve food that is well-balanced. Eating nutritious food allows children to do better in the classroom. They have stronger critical thinking skills and social skills. Not having enough healthy food can have implications on a child’s physical and mental health, as well as academic achievement.

I am so proud of this program that is offered right here in Connecticut that will help thousands of children. And I have to commend two women, Shawnee Knight and Tina Kramer, who founded the program 10 years ago when they noticed kids who came to practice without snacks unlike students who did have snacks that came from wealthier towns. Both Shawnee and Tina began bringing snacks for all the children regardless of where they came from and later created food bags for insecure children. They used their own funds and drove their own cars to deliver the food bags.

The past 10 years they’ve continued to grow the program and have a warehouse full of food they purchase. They have trucks that deliver the food in New York and throughout Fairfield County. In Bridgeport alone they serve 925 children. The unique part, the food bags they distribute to children are nutrition approved and include culturally appropriate items from a variety of companies such as Goya.