Zoning tables Bread for Life decision; Parents upset with proposed location

By Lisa Capobianco

Staff Writer

Over a dozen parents flocked to a Planning and Zoning meeting last week to voice their concerns over Bread for Life’s potential new home across from Derynoski Elementary School.

Bread for Life, a non profit organization that provides hot meals to people in need five days a week, has proposed to bring its property to 296 Main Street. The 3,200 sq. foot building would meet Southington’s growing demand of its residents, according to a press release on Bread for Life’s website.

Parents rejected Bread for Life’s application, expressing concerns for their children’s safety.  During a Board of Education meeting two weeks ago, parents came forward with letters and e-mails. One parent, Heidi Matusik, has a fifth grader at Derynoski Elementary School. Matusik said she feels grateful for the services that Bread for Life offers to the entire community, but feels as though the non-profit organization does not provide safety for children.

“I agree that everyone should get a meal, but everyone who is getting a meal should not possibly be near the school,” Matusik said during a Board of Education meeting two weeks ago. “There will inevitably be a sex offender, a person struggling of substance abuse, or even a person with mental illness who may not be able to make rational decisions.”

Eldon Hafford, the executive director of Bread for Life, said in a press release that his non-profit organization has “explored a new building for ten years,” and its proposed plan is “modest in scope,” meeting town regulations. But Hafford also said BFL is open to hearing people’s concerns.

“We have a tremendous relationship with the Southington School System, including recently launching the successful breakfast program,” Hafford said in the press release. “We know this relationship will grow in the future and have begun to talk about ways to deepen the bond.”

During the meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission decided to table the application, and public input will take place October 15 during a regular meeting, according to Chairman Michael DelSanto. The meeting will take place at Town Hall.

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