June 21, 2016
Reporter: Community Contributor
Source: Hartford Courant
East Hartford, Conn. (June 21, 2016) – End Hunger CT! (EHC!) Executive Director Lucy Nolan and United Way of Central and Northeastern CT President and CEO, Paula Gilberto, joined by Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, and federal, state, and local officials today kicked off the 2016 Summer Meals campaign.
The Summer Meals Blitz and Block Party took place on the United Way Day of Action to increase awareness of the Summer Meals Programs in East Hartford and across the state. Members of East Hartford Public Schools and Sodexo – which, along with the Community Renewal Team (CRT), provides East Hartford’s free Summer Meals Programs, the East Hartford Hunger Action Team, End Hunger CT! and United Way volunteers and community partners came together to canvass East Hartford’s neighborhoods and distribute information promoting the Summer Meals Programs.
“We’re fortunate to be part of a community where state, local and community leaders all understand the importance of helping children get the nutrition they need when school is out,” said EHC! Executive Director Lucy Nolan. “With more Blitz Days to go, we’re on the right path to set record participation while reducing child hunger in Connecticut during the summer and preparing kids for school in the Fall.”
“This is a powerful coalition whose work makes a big difference in the lives of young people,” said Lt. Governor Wyman. “Good nutrition over the summer helps students retain what they learned in school as well as preparing them to start next year healthy and ready to learn. I applaud End Hunger CT! and the many partners who’ve come together today with such a commitment to kids.”
Last summer, Connecticut ranked as one of five top-performing states in serving meals to children and teens during the summer, according to the Food Research & Action Center’s (FRAC) Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report, released last week. End Hunger Connecticut! is cited in the report for its nationally recognized best practice of organizing the Blitz Days to promote the Summer Meals Programs. The organization was recently presented with the FRAC Award for Innovative Anti-Hunger Work.
“The problem of childhood hunger can be intensified in the summer months when school lets out and children don’t have access to the school breakfast and lunch meals that many families count on. We are fortunate in Connecticut to have incredible partners who come together to offer a far-reaching summer meals program that provides healthy and nutritious meals for thousands of children across the state,” said Commissioner of Education Dianna R. Wentzell.
“Summer is a crucial time for children and teens to continue pursuing their highest potential,” said Audrey Rowe, Administrator of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). “Unfortunately for millions of children across the country, food insecurity threatens their ability to thrive when school lets out for summer and they no longer receive nutritious free or reduced-price meals throughout the school
day. USDA’s summer meals programs ensure that kids and teens have consistent access to healthy
meals at no cost during the summer months and provide a safe, nourishing environment for kids to
learn and grow.”
End Hunger CT! and United Way of Central and Northeastern CT organized the Blitz and Block Party to invite people and organizations across the community to LIVE UNITED and take action by volunteering to improve the building blocks for a good quality of life – education, financial stability, and health and basic needs through promoting CT’s Summer Meals Programs together.
“United Way Day of Action is the perfect opportunity to mobilize more than 100 volunteers to help children and families access important resources for the summer,” said Paula S. Gilberto, President and CEO of United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut. “We’re grateful to the over 50 workplaces and community partners who share in the vision that all children succeed in school and families are financially secure.”
Capping off the day was the Summer Meals Block Party, sponsored by Depend and featuring iHeartMedia’s Renee DiNino, offered fun activities geared towards educating kids and their families about both literacy and summer nutrition with dinner provided by Black Bamboo of West Hartford.
‘Blitz Week’ kicked off on Monday, June 20th in Brooklyn, CT with events being held in eight different locations throughout the week: Montville (6/22), Norwich (6/22), Groton (6/22), New London (6/22), Branford (6/24), and New Haven (6/25).
To find a free Summer Meals location near you, visit www.ctsummermeals.org, call toll free 2-1-1, or
text ‘CTMeals’ to 877-877.