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Free daily lunches available to children and their parents

ENFIELD—Summer Lunch Bunch opened its doors to over 75 Enfield children and parents on June 23rd at St. Patrick Parish Hall on Pearl Street.  The program began just as the school year ended and will operate daily until August 22nd. 

Roger LeBlanc, ERfC Volunteer & Project Coordinator, said many children miss having lunch in the summer once school ends.  “Summer Lunch Bunch provides children with a healthy and balanced lunch during the long summer days,” he added.  Lunch is served from 12:00 PM to 12:30 PM. The packaged lunches are provided by the CT Renewal Team (CRT) in Hartford.

LeBlanc’s goal is to double the attendance this year. “I want no Enfield child to go without lunch this summer.  We have room for many more kids,” he said. 

With the addition of parent lunches for a second year, LeBlanc hopes to increase the number of pre-school and kindergarten children attending. School age children do not require a parent to attend.

“We encourage parents to join their kids for lunch,” said LeBlanc. Last summer 2,316 lunches were served to children and 532 lunches to parents over a nine-week period.

Summer Lunch Bunch, operated by Educational Resources for Children, Inc., also known as ERfC, is a USDA sponsored free lunch outreach program for children ages 18 and under.

LeBlanc said Summer Lunch Bunch is an open site and no registration is required.  “St. Patrick’s Hall is air conditioned so families can have activities, lunch, and cool down now that the summer heat is here,” he added.

In addition to lunch each day, educational and recreational activities for children begin at 11:00 AM.  Children can choose from a variety of activities including board games, building projects with Lego’s, arts & crafts, and a variety of cooperative games.

“All of these activities give children summer learning opportunities and we are grateful to our partners for their leadership and support,” LeBlanc added.

LeBlanc said community partners also provide special activities for children daily. Trish DelNegro, Human Resources Director at Shop Rite of Enfield, has organized several days of face painting; and volunteers from Calvary Presbyterian Church will entertain children with games and crafts.  Over the next couple of weeks, Annalisa Deal, from The Network in Enfield, will demonstrate the art of making beaded necklaces and give children opportunities to create their own necklaces to take home.

LeBlanc said parents can participate in activities with their children, socialize with other parents, and learn about services available from providers in the community at the Summer Lunch Bunch Information Center.

LeBlanc said local organizations will provide community information and special activities.  Representatives from the Strengthening Families program, Neighborhood Services, the Enfield Family Resource Centers, Social Services, and Boy Scouts, will provide parents with information about services and activities they provide.

Foodshare SNAP outreach volunteers will assist with processing applications for food assistance on scheduled dates.

“Representatives from these organizations don’t just stand at a booth and wait for families to come to them. They circulate and talk directly with parents about the services they may need and all that is available in their community,” LeBlanc added.

Bay Path College student intern Danielle Harris is also available every day to provide information and answer questions about ERfC School-Age Centers. ERfC has been providing out-of-school time programs for Enfield children since 1994. Harris will assist parents in completing enrollment forms and Care 4 Kids applications. ERfC before and after-school Centers for K-8th grade students will open on the first day of school, September 2nd. Registration is required.

LeBlanc said support for the Summer Lunch Bunch program comes from donations and volunteer time from many community individuals, businesses, and organizations.

“Summer Lunch Bunch would not be possible without all the committed support”, said LeBlanc.  In addition, the United Way Community Investment Fund provides support through ERfC, a partner agency.

For more information about Summer Lunch Bunch, volunteer opportunities, and other ERfC programs, visit www.erfc.us  or call 860-253-9935. To apply to be a Summer Lunch Bunch volunteer contact Leblanc at rleblanc@erfc.us or call 860-745-3714.  Donations can also be made online to support Summer Lunch Bunch at www.erfc.us.

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