Fed 40 app aimed at tackling hunger in Connecticut

A Fed 40 app promises to connect hungry Connecticut residents to 40 nutritious meals delivered within a day to their front door.

The app came about after Dave Green shed tears hearing the testimony of a Florida senior, a woman in her 80s, whose financial struggles led to hunger and shame, a fate shared by too many seniors, children and families in this state.

As the leader of Feeding Children Everywhere, an organization dedicated to eliminating hunger, Green was able to intervene. Last year, FCE invested an additional $5 million in meals for seniors in affordable housing, he said.

Much more needs to be done, he added.

Formed after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, FCE has mobilized hundreds of thousands of volunteers to assemble healthful meals for hungry people in 49 countries around the world, according to FCE. In 2013, FCE started U.S. Hunger to help feed the millions of Americans who go hungry each day, including veterans, an issue that does not get enough attention, according to Green.

Often, people who struggle do need assistance, but they don’t want it, said Green, who seeks to empower veterans, so help is not seen as a handout, but a hand up.

Fed 40, FCE’s newest tool to eliminate hunger, got started in Florida, where FCE is based, and expanded to Texas, Oklahoma and Connecticut. Organizers plan to scale up Fed 40 to offer it nationwide by next year, Green said.

FCE is known for large “hunger projects” that recruit volunteers to mix, measure and package four basic ingredients of the red lentil jambalaya meal — lentils, rice, dehydrated vegetables and mineral-rich pink Himalayan salt — that were distributed in developing countries.

Through U.S. Hunger, the charity distributes within America via food pantries, schools, churches and other nonprofits, Green said. Undernourished residents most often at risk reside within food deserts, which are densely populated areas with high poverty rates where an absence of grocery stores or transportation creates a lack of access to healthful, fresh foods.

Food deserts offer “a cross section of things wrong with our society,” said Kate Walton, executive director of Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven and the former director of the Connecticut Food Bank.

The success of a Fed 40 rests on the key word — delivered — said Walton.

With its donation of more than $2,600 from the community of Ellington Congregational Church, the Fed 40 program was opened to state residents.

“We were excited about it,” said Sharon McLauglin, church treasurer, who has helped mobilize the congregation to fight hunger. “It was a great answer for us. We are concerned about what is happening in our state.”

Many elderly residents have a budget for food but lack access, said Walton, adding that innovative, powerful tools like Fed 40 are something “positive, to be encouraged and nurtured.”

FCE also recently partnered with IDEAS for Us, an organization that funds local solutions that solve the environmental crisis, to expand its Fleet Farming program nationwide. Fleet Farming plans to transform lawns across the nation into urban farms free of cost. While the homeowner shares a portion of the produce, the remainder is offered to local food pantries, farmers markets and restaurants, Green said.

Fleet Farming “strives to reduce the environmental impact of food production through a pedal-powered, hyper-local urban farming model that creates a culture of health and vibrant ecosystems by teaching an intergenerational fleet of volunteers how to grow their own food, activating and re-engaging the community through biweekly Swarm Rides, and creating a breathe free and biodiverse environment through emissions-free, organic farming,” according to the website.

The connection between farming and fighting hunger is a big part of the answer to a very complex problem, particularly in food deserts, Green said.

“It’s a way to turn food deserts into food producers,” said Green, adding that shame attached to food assistance is “heartbreaking.”

A big priority for FCE programs is to restore dignity to the process, Green added.

To download the app, visit iTunes or Google Play, or visit Fed40.com on the web.