NORTH BRANFORD—A handful of state representatives from around the region worked together recently to deliver 1,200 boxes of fresh produce to residents of their communities.
State Rep. Vincent Candelora worked with Cecarelli’s Harrison Hill Farm in Northford to supply the produce, and Candelora then pulled in House of Representatives colleagues Noreen Kokoruda, Joe Zullo, Craig Fishbein, and Dave Yaccarino to help distribute the fruits and veggies.
“The public health crisis has hit our state’s economy hard, and with it the day-to-day finances of so many families,” said Candelora, who serves the 86th District serving residents of North Branford, Durham, Guilford and Wallingford. “My colleagues and I wanted to do something to relieve just a bit of that financial pressure, and we were fortunate that Willie DellaCamera and his team at Cecarelli’s were able to provide food for those who need it.”
The free boxes distributed by the legislators on Aug. 28 contained corn, eggplant, tomatoes, lettuce, squash, cucumbers, zucchini, and even a watermelon.
It was the state legislators’ second attempt at holding a produce distribution event at the Connecticut Sportsplex. Logistical problems caused by Tropical Storm Isaias forced them to cancel their original session. Bad weather threatened the rescheduled event, too, with a powerful storm ripping across the region hours before the first truckload of produce arrived.
“The first few people who arrived told us they weren’t sure if we were still having the event given all of the downed trees and power lines throughout the area,” said Kokoruda, the 101st District representative who eventually loaded boxes into her vehicle to bring to people in her area. “I’m really glad we pushed forward—it helped brighten the day for a lot of people struggling with the power outage and the unexpected headache of storm cleanup.”
Many roads around the area were closed due to downed limbs and utility poles, and distribution of the produce started slowly. But traffic picked up in the afternoon as word was passed around that the event was still on despite the heavy blow delivered by the fast-moving storm.
“We tried to notify everyone by Facebook throughout the day, but the storm’s disruption of cell phone service posed a big challenge,” Candelora said. “Over and over, we heard from people who said they simply bumped into a neighbor who let them know we were here. So, by sundown, we had managed to give it all away.”
Kokoruda explaned that two juniors from Danile Hand High School filled a truck with 70 boxes and brought them to the Madision Senior Center. Zullo (R-99) provided a food pantry in his home town, East Haven, with four dozen boxes, and like Kokoruda, Fishbein (R-90) and Yaccarino (R-87) brought produce back to their communities.