Trumbull restaurants serve nearly 3,000 meals through COVID-era program

Old Towne Restaurant, at 60 Quality Street in Trumbull.

Old Towne Restaurant, at 60 Quality Street in Trumbull.

File photo

TRUMBULL — A local meals program has provided more than 2,800 meals to 335 Trumbull residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic since launching seven months ago. It’s also given a boost to local restaurants providing food through the program, many of which were struggling in the shadow of the pandemic.

“It’s a win-win,” said Michele Jakab, Trumbull director of human services.

The meals program launched in July, with a goal of providing meals for residents who had been affected by COVID in any number of ways. This included those who had tested positive for the virus and couldn’t leave the house to shop for or pick up food for their families, as well as those who had lost jobs or who were unable or unwilling to leave the house for another reason.

That last group included senior citizens, many of whom are especially vulnerable to COVID.

“As the numbers go up, it makes them more comfortable knowing they don’t have to go to the store,” Jakab said.

There are 10 local restaurants participating, and residents can order right off their regular menus. The food is available for takeout, curbside pickup or delivery. Restaurants participating include Sitting Duck Tavern, Old Towne Restaurant, Subway and others.

The meals cost $25 for lunch and $35 for dinner. Jakab said assistance is available for low-income residents participating in the program.

Not only do residents benefit from the meals program, but residents do too, said Rina Bakalar, Trumbull director of economic and community development.

“The program is bringing commerce that would not otherwise exist to participating restaurants and providing food security to COVID-affected residents or residents with other needs,” she said. “This is part of our long-term recovery efforts.”

Jakab said there has been a bump in requests for meals in recent weeks, as COVID numbers have gone up in town.

“Just last week we were getting a lot of individuals with COVID who are calling,” she said.

Bakalar said the latest spike in numbers has put the community in a response and recovery mode simultaneously.

“We want to be sure people are safe and that our local businesses survive and prosper,” she said.

The meal program is being funded through a $200,000 grant from a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program administered by the Connecticut Department of Housing. Jakab said the program will last as long as the grant money does, and about half of it has already been spent.

Trumbull has until next December to use the existing funds.

Bakalar said it’s unknown what will happen once the current grant funding is spent, but a lot of that depends on what residents need moving forward.

“If we continue to have needs in the community past the term of the grant, we will certainly look for additional funding to support the effort,” she said.

Residents who want more information on the program can contact Jakab at 203-452-5199.