Volunteers spread word about summer lunch program for kids in Meriden

cafca | July 06, 2017 |

The summer meals for kids program, which began this week, got a boost with a door-to-door informational blitz. 

About 50 volunteers gathered on the Meriden Green Tuesday to put on orange T-shirts and hand out flyers, door hangers and other promotional items with information on how to access the free lunch program. All children, 18 and younger, are eligible for a free, nutritious lunch through the program, a coordinated effort by End Hunger Connecticut, New Opportunities of Greater Meriden and Meriden Public Schools.

The cold lunches are prepared by the school district food services department.The volunteers visited homes, businesses and community locations.

“You get a flyer in the mail, you see it in the newspaper, you forget,” said Emily Morales-Varona, a Meriden Housing Authority resident commissioner. “If you have someone knocking on your door and you make that one-on-one connection, it’s different from a flyer.”

Morales-Varona has four children under age 10, and said that she “grew up on summer meals.”

She canvassed the Mills apartments Tuesday, flagging down friends and neighbors, speaking English and Spanish and handing out something to everyone she met.

“When people see faces and hear from a mouth that’s actually going to these programs, it’s different,” she said. “The feel and the feedback from a person that actually goes to the summer lunches, how are they, what’s the best site to go to, what times.”

Last year, the 10-week program provided 18,600 meals, and this year the goal is to serve 20,000 meals, said Dona Ditrio, New Opportunities program director.

“We know that there are kids in Meriden who most likely qualify for the free lunch program in the district, but in the summer it’s very difficult for families to make that bridge so that kids do have food and meals,” she said.

The volunteers reconvened in the park on Tuesday for an evening barbecue.

Information on summer meal locations can be found by visiting www.ctsummermeals.org, texting “CTMeals” to 877-877 or calling 211.

LTakores@record-journal.com 203-317-2212 Twitter: @LCTakores