By SHERIDAN CYR
With the holiday season over, Bread for Life is already looking ahead. BFL has a number of upcoming programs scheduled, and others which are still in the works.
Just around the corner is BFL’s first ever “Paint Party” donation drive at their facility, 31 Vermont Ave., on Jan. 14 from 2 to 5 p.m. Local artist, Chris Brown, will lead the class through the steps to create an adorable winter scene. Hors d’oeuvres and coffee will be served.
The cost is $35 per person, all of which will benefit BFL services. Anyone who brings and donates a $5 gift card will be entered into a raffle for a specialty prize basket. Reserve your spot by Jan. 11 (spots are limited) by calling the main line or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Though a blanket of ice and snow covers just about everything outside, Ayer talked about their summer feeding program, which provides young students with lunch that they normally would get during school but of course don’t receive that during the summer months.
She also mentioned that, with their garden being inoperable in the winter, they greatly appreciate donations of fresh fruits and vegetables.
They are looking forward to reconnecting with one neighborhood that is “underserved,” said Ayer. In the warmer months, BFL’s food truck treks down to a local HUD Housing Agency neighborhood, sets up a few picnic tables and stacks them each with grocery items. The residents then can go “grocery shopping” and fill up a bag or two with items they need.
“This definitely helps out that community which normally wouldn’t have some of the food items most people consider standard household items,” said Ayer. She reported that, according to national studies, one in every six kids in America is hungry. Meanwhile, enough food is thrown away each day to feed everyone in the country.
In response to a recent assessment that BFL conducted on their clients, they found that many of them would eat very little, or not at all, outside of the one weekday meal BFL serves them. BFL is considering offering a weekend meal for those clients.
In addition, they are working out a new visitation program, where volunteers – at the consent of the individual – will visit clients and spend time with them. They may play a board game, watch a show, do crossword puzzles – it’d be entirely up to the client.
BFL is in the early stages of partnering with the YMCA, SCS, Youth Services, Hartford Healthcare and other community groups to form the “Hunger Action Coalition.” The team will discuss the needs of the community and combine resources to service those needs.
“The ‘need’ goes beyond just obtaining the food. There’s a nutritional aspect, too, that is lacking,” said Ayer.
Overall, she expressed great gratitude to the Southington community for all of their volunteering and donation efforts. “There are so many needs throughout the year, and people are just so incredibly generous in this community,” she said. “They’ll never meet the people they help, and yet they’re so giving and just want to help.”
Ayer and administrative director Missy Cipriano gave special thanks to a few members of the community.
“I just have so much gratitude for this one woman, who wishes to remain anonymous,” said Cipriano. “She makes these beautiful handmade greeting cards for every special occasion throughout the year.”
The woman will not be continuing her service due to personal reasons, but her work was greatly appreciated. Cipriano and Ayer also made special shout-outs to Ally G’s Everyday Angels Foundation – a charitable organization founded by Allyson Genovese – and Mark Ramsey, executive director of Lewis Educational Agricultural Farm (LEAF), for his generous donations of fresh produce.
For more information about what you can do to help, contact BFL at (860) 276-8389 or southingtonbreadforlife.org.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.