Billy Bromage sent in the following write-up about a food-information drive in which he took part.
On Saturday over 75 volunteers, in teams of two, went door to door in several New Haven neighborhoods, handing out information to residents and businesses to spread the word about the Summer Meals program, which strives to fill in the nutrition gap that is caused when kids, who access free meals during the school year, break for the summer.
Over 100 people gathered in Goffe Street Park to draw attention to the Summer Meals program. The event, known as the Summer Blitz, was organized by the New Haven Food Policy Council, New Haven Public Schools, and End Hunger CT!
In 2013, only 4 in 10 New Haven kids who qualified for free school lunch utilized the Summer Meals program. The event on Saturday aimed to draw attention to the program, and to close that gap by ensuring that many more kids know about where to get a free, nutritious meal this summer.
When volunteers returned to Goffe Street Park at noon, they were greeted by a full lunch, provided by the NHPS Food Service department, and donations by Stop and Shop and START Community Bank. Food Service Director, Gail Sharry, spoke with volunteers, as she handed out sandwiches, pasta, fruit, cookies, and water.
The volunteers were also greeted by the inspiring words of many public officials, including Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Commissioner Stefan Pryor of the Connecticut Department of Education, State Sen. Martin Looney, State Rep. Pat Dillon, mayoral Chief of Staff Tomas Reyes, Chief Operating Officer Will Clark from New Haven Public Schools, Alycia Santill from the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE), and Lucy Nolan, the Executive Director of End Hunger CT!, who all came to lend their support to the event, and to the overall effort to close disparities in childhood nutrition.
The importance of the Summer Meals to support good nutrition during the summer, and academic performance when kids return to school in the fall was stressed by several speakers. State Senator Gary Holder-Winfield and State Representative Robyn Porter also attended the event, and mingled with and assisted the event organizers and volunteers. The event ended with a stirring performance by New Haven-based jazz band, Psalm 150.
The Summer Meals program begins on Monday, July 7th, and runs into early August, with over 60 feeding sites in New Haven and Hamden. The program is free to any child 18 years old and younger. For more details on sites to pick up a meal, interested families can text CTmeals to 877877, call 211, or visit www.CTSummerFood.org.