Student organization Unchain at the University of Connecticut is hosting a Willimantic Food Aid this Sunday, March 21 at 10 a.m.
Nell Srinath, a second-semester student and founder of Unchain, said the event hosted at Jillson Square in Willimantic will offer free reproductive care products, hand sanitizer and food.
“Unchain, as I like to put it, is a nexus for UConn’s radical student community to organize towards the end of racial capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy, ableism and ecological collapse,” Srinath said. “We’re a young organization, but our goal is to apply these ideas to create a more equitable and sustainable UConn that cherishes the social welfare of all students, not just the white dudes with their last name on buildings. We are relentlessly committed to these ends.”
The widespread food insecurity in Connecticut was a big inspiration for Srinath and Unchain to organize this event.
“According to the CT Food Bank, 400,000 Connecticut residents go hungry, including almost 120,000 minors,” Srinath said. “I have no doubt that those statistics are underreported for Connecticut’s undocumented community who face their own host of economic struggles. So creating an organizational framework to help meet those needs, in conjunction with the tireless efforts of regional food banks and mutual aid organizations, is very important to us.”
Along with sandwiches, soup and chickpea salad, there will be a community conversation on the food and housing insecurity many in Connecticut face.
“We want people to know that they have a base of support to mobilize against evictions, fundraise for legal counsel, and spread awareness about issues that affect them. We’re an explicitly anti-capitalist, anti-partisan organization in this respect,” Srinath said. “We reject the platitudes of dominant American political figureheads and instead defer to communities. We want them to know that when they are failed by the state or deliberately harmed by the brutally exclusive system of racial capitalism, we are building an alternative system for people to turn to, solidarity and mutual aid.”
Unchain wants to mobilize its resources through events like the Willimantic Food Aid and connect with the community to make better sense of the issues they face.
“Food and reproductive care are human rights, not something to be hidden behind a paywall. If we can help just one person NOT have to make the decision between food and some other necessity, we’ll consider this effort a success,” Srinath said. “We think it’s absurd that we must pay for goods and services that people need to live happy and healthy lives, especially when a lot of people in food and manufacturing services are paid so little that they can’t afford housing, healthcare, and education individually, much less altogether.”
The community-led conversation will not have any set moderator in order to maintain an open dialogue between the community and the people around it.
“There will and will not be moderators if that makes any sense,” Srinath said. “While we want to make sure that dialogue is open and inclusive, we will also remain steadfast in pointing out how capitalism breeds inequality; how white supremacy underdevelops communities and creates a targeted regime of incarceration against Black and indigenous peoples; how violence against women, queer and trans people are connected to one another; the imperative of disability justice, and so forth.”
For those who cannot attend the Food Aid and Conversation in person, or want to support UConn Unchain in their outreach efforts, they can be found on Instagram at JOIN UNCHAIN! (@uconn.unchain).