Food shelf launches project for food-insecure children
WINDSOR — Volunteers with the Windsor Food Shelf and five local musicians are coming together this month in support of a new program dubbed “The Weekend Lunchbox — For Kids” for elementary school students who may lack nutritious food on weekends.
“We got talking to the school, and there was a definite need,” said Brad Willey, a Windsor resident and coordinator for the Windsor Food Shelf and the weekend program. While it is not targeted to the entire community, the focus of the program is on local families that are the most “food-insecure,” those without enough food to get through the weekends, he said.
The food shelf is organizing two programs at this time, a summer program that is already privately funded and that will deliver food to families in need, and a school-year program that will send food home each weekend for students in those families.
A modified Weekend Lunchbox program with a downtown drop-off point launches on Saturday, July 9 for approximately 35-40 families with children possibly needing extra food on weekends through the summer. The families were previously identified through the Windsor Elementary School, according to Willey. When the school year begins, the regular Weekend Lunchbox program will begin, with food distributed on Fridays at the school.
“There are children who do not eat on the weekends at home, because food is simply not available. For a second grader to go home on Friday afternoon and not eat again until school lunch on Monday morning is simply unfathomable. We can’t fix this problem, or even meet the need in full. But we can do our best, and that’s what we aim to do,” Willey said.
While the food shelf does not have direct contact with children, volunteers with the pantry are working in conjunction with the elementary school.
“We’ll feed as many as we can, but our goal is to feed 35,” Willey said.
The program, based out of the Windsor Food Shelf at the Trinity Church on Main Street, is a collaboration with the elementary school and several churches. It came about when Pastor Paul Voltmer mentioned he had seen a similar program while in Long Island, New York and thought it may work in Windsor, according to Willey.
For each child identified confidentially by the school as having a serious need for nutritional assistance at home, food shelf volunteers will pack five healthy items.
For the five items each weekend, such as a granola bar, raisins, applesauce cups, chicken noodle soup, ready-made macaroni and cheese, the cost is $2.38 per child, Willey said.
Each Friday afternoon, volunteers will deliver these packages to the school for discrete distribution to be sent home.
Willey said he is receiving good community feedback about the new project, and that school personnel are “thrilled.”
“They are very happy to be a part of this,” he said.
The food pantry uses 100 percent of donations and fundraiser proceeds to purchase groceries from Sysco, which sells to the pantry at cost. This ensures that all families receive the same fresh food items, Willey said. Aside from the children’s programs, the food shelf also provides food for the community from its Main Street location.
Two fundraisers will help the food pantry reach its goals of helping students during the school year. One is a employee fundraiser at Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center, where employees aim to raise four cans of food to donate to the food shelf, and $2 per person to give to the Lunchbox program.
To kick off fundraising for the Weekend Lunchbox, five local musicians will come together for a “Concert on the Common” benefit acoustic concert from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 15 at The Common in Windsor.
Taking part will be Bill Brink, Tom Ghent, Seth Howard and Dan Blaze from the Road Trash Band, and Rich Thomas from the band About Gladys.
The church also hosts other programs for children, including a medieval-themed Kingdom Chronicles children’s day camp scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon, Aug. 2-6 at the Windsor Common, with crafts, lessons, snacks and games.
“Our heart is for the kids,” Voltmer said. The church’s activities and programs aim to help combat the local cycle of poverty, addiction, and food insecurity, he said.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the food pantry’s programs can contact Willey at email@example.com. For more information on the food shelf, camp or the church’s other programs, visit www.tefcwindsor.com.