When it comes to getting food to the needy, Sen. Chris Murphy believes the city of Bristol took a unique approach that helped many people who needed it most during the covid-19 pandemic.

“Bristol’s response to covid has been one of the most nimble in the state,” Murphy said during a visit to the Meals for Neighbors Program Friday at the Zion Lutheran Church on Judd Street.

The program operates four nights a week, often distributing more than one hundred meals per night.

During the visit, Murphy learned from Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu and other community leaders how the city handled issues during the peak of the pandemic, with a focus on how it helped get food to those who need it.

The U.S. Senator told The Bristol Press city officials gathered together local social services and essentially got them all together in one room to make sure the needs of the community were being met.

“And that’s unique,” Murphy said.

“What they’re seeing is a flattening of demand,” Murphy said of the Meals for Neighbors Program, which saw a major spike in the number of people who needed food during the pandemic.

The senator said he believes the flattening may have stemmed from the most recent covid relief package, which increased SNAP benefits to American families.

According to Murphy’s press office, the senator this week led a Connecticut delegation letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on how to improve the food purchase and donation programs. Earlier this year, he also introduced the FEMA Empowering Essential Deliveries (FEED) Act, which would allow FEMA to fully fund local and state government partnerships with restaurants and nonprofits to feed Americans experiencing food insecurity during the pandemic.

Van Monak Chhun, director of Meals for Neighbors, said she was grateful Murphy took the time to visit Zion Lutheran to see all the good work the many volunteers do.

“I think it’s great for state leaders to see food pantries, which have been operational in the pandemic,” Chhun said. “For him to see this operation is great.”

Zoppo-Sassu, who discussed at length with Murphy how Bristol has handled the pandemic, added that having the food pantry at Zion Lutheran makes it very accessible to those who need it.

“It’s right in the heart of Route 6,” the mayor said.