First United Methodist Church to offer free summer lunches

By Kitty LeShay - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Tue., Jun. 11, 2013

Jill Gregori has been coordinator of Flo’s Friendship Kitchen for 30 years and is excited about a new program being offered this summer for six weeks.

From June 26 through Aug. 8, First United Methodist Church will host a daily luncheon (Monday through Friday) for children and their parents or guardians. In addition, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, special programs will be available for those in attendance.

There are no qualifications to receive these meals, and all are welcome. “Our main goal is to feed more children. When I first started the program in 1983, 30 percent of the people coming to our Wednesday lunches and Friday dinners were kids, now the percentage is 10 percent,” she said. “I’m hoping that the lunch program we will be instituting this summer will break the chain on that trend.”

Dovetailing the new lunch program at the First United Methodist Church will be the established summer program at Staffordville Lake, which has been going on for years. Children participate in outdoor activities and are served breakfast and lunch. There is a fee for attending this program, and any parent may sign their child up. Staff at Staffordsville School will be preparing food for both the children in day camp and the First United Methodist Church. Both will occur from June 26 to Aug. 8.

“The reason why lunches are being offered at the church is because End Hunger in Connecticut has identified a section of Stafford at a certain poverty level. This opens an unrestricted site for free lunches. We don’t have to take any information. All we have to do is have a count,” Gregori explained. “While the USDA reimburses only for the children’s lunches, we are hoping to receive a grant to serve the parents as well,” she added.

Guests will receive a bagged lunch which includes juice, milk, a sandwich and fruit. On Wednesdays, there will be a hot meal.

On Mondays, the Stafford Public Library staff will come at 10:45 a.m. to bring books and games. Staff members will read stories. On Wednesdays, local clergy will be in attendance as well as Stafford Family Services. They will avail themselves to families to discuss their needs. Information concerning eligibility for food stamps will also be available. On Fridays, the Stafford Early Childhood Collaborative will present programs on nutrition, give health tips, talk about safety issues and lead yoga sessions.

First United Methodist Church is located at 8 Church St. Lunch will begin at 11:30 a.m. Reservations for meals for children up to 18 years old, plus their parents or guardians, can be made by calling 860-463-0379 or e-mailing There are no qualifications necessary to receive these meals; all are welcome. An accurate count is needed to ensure that enough meals are prepared. The alternate site is St. Edward Church.

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