The Hartford Community Coalition runs its summer meal program, Take a Bite Out of Hunger, in a hybrid fashion. In all, last year the program provided 26,000 meals over eight weeks to about 1,000 children.
“We do our absolute best to try and break down barriers in terms of access and transportation,” Emily Musty Zanleoni, executive director of the Hartford Community Coalition, said. “With the restrictions coming back on to the program it is difficult.”
The group will be offering two open sites where families with children can pick up a weekly meal bag: Mondays at the White River School from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.; and Wednesdays at Hartford High School from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Meal bags include: A loaf of bread, meat, cheese and carrot sticks. There is a signup form online at: hccvt.org. Registration in advance is not required, but it helps HCC to plan. Weekly meals begin the week of June 26 and run through Aug. 18.
One change from last year for the USDA meals is that HCC cannot do deliveries, which may mean that families in Quechee or West Hartford who can’t get to White River Junction for one of the pick-up times may miss out. Another is that HCC cannot partner with the Haven to provide meals for the Haven’s summer camp because as a homeless shelter, the Haven fits into a different USDA meal category. ☹
The “restrictions (have) gone back to not allowing us to collaborate with the Haven,” Zanleoni said. “…Small rural communities (have) to work together. Why would you encourage us to be more in our silos?”
HCC will make weekly meal bag deliveries to Twin Pines and Lebanon Housing Authority housing developments in Hartford and Lebanon. Since Lebanon doesn’t qualify as an open meal site for reimbursement through USDA, the Lebanon meals are funded through philanthropy, Zanleoni said.
Separately, HCC, in partnership with The Abbey Group, provides daily hot meals to summer schools in Hartford and Lebanon, as well as to several summer camps in Hartford. The camp meals start June 21.
“It’s a big undertaking,” Zanleoni said.