By SHERIDAN CYR
Southington’s own soup kitchen, Bread for Life, is always looking for opportunities in the community to assist those in need. In their most recent community service project, Executive Director Donna Ayer and Administrative Director Missy Cipriano teamed up with several local restaurants to provide their clients with delicious catered food for each day of the week.
Ayer explained that the soup kitchen serves about 150 meals each day, between clients who come to the kitchen and dine, and their 40 home-bound clients who receive deliveries of a hot lunch and dry dinner each day. Their head chef, Bob Paradis, is away on vacation this week, so Ayer and Cipriano had to get creative.
Cipriano came up with the idea of having businesses cater their daily lunches while Paradis was away. Each business that came through donated their catering services to Bread for Life.
“We want to promote these local businesses that are donating their services to us, and how do we do that? Well, we know that the community appreciates a business that does community service. Having them here helps their business grow,” explained Cipriano.
Cipriano was thrilled to have so much help from the community. “We’re all in this together. There are immediate needs here in Southington that we are always trying to address.”
Cipriano said that, at Bread for Life, it’s the seemingly simple things that mean the most to their clients. Having restaurant food is uncommon for them, and even if they can afford it, transportation is a whole additional issue.
Ayer explained that the kitchen usually obtains food from local donations, food recovery programs, and from Foodshare. Chef Paradis takes these items and crafts a recipe with what he is given.
“He really has to be creative with his ingredients, so he is invaluable to us,” said Ayer. She and Cipriano knew they would have to call on some outside help to make the week possible without Paradis.
On Monday, Chips donated pancakes and fruit. Saints visited Tuesday and donated fried chicken, potatoes and coleslaw. On Wednesday, the Family Brick Oven Pizza Truck visited and cooked up several pizzas with different toppings right in the parking lot. Thursday, Tops donated sandwiches and wraps. Smokin’ with Chris donated Friday’s meal, and already invited all of the clients to come in to their restaurant next year when they do this community service again.
In addition to the catering, five beauticians donated their services on Monday to give students back-to-school haircuts. Ally Genovese from Ally’s Angels Foundation; Kayla Genovese from DPZ North Salon; Britney DiNello from The Color Bar; along with Tracey Pisko, Bev Montana, and Paula Machado from Sculptures Salon showed up to give 15 students a fresh cut for school.
Cipriano reported that all of the caterers are already excited to do this event again. In the meantime, Bread for Life will continue to give as much as they can to those who cannot help themselves.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.