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Rindge

No vacation from hunger

Once summer starts, how do school-aged kids who are  eligible for free or reduced lunches get the food they need?  Now, a church in Rindge is working on the answer

  • First Congregational Church Rev. David L. Jadlocki talks about the new summer lunch program that distributes lunches to needy children in Rindge on a weekly basis.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    First Congregational Church Rev. David L. Jadlocki talks about the new summer lunch program that distributes lunches to needy children in Rindge on a weekly basis.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • First Congregational Church Rev. David L. Jadlocki talks about the new summer lunch program that distributes lunches to needy children in Rindge on a weekly basis.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    First Congregational Church Rev. David L. Jadlocki talks about the new summer lunch program that distributes lunches to needy children in Rindge on a weekly basis.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • First Congregational Church Rev. David L. Jadlocki talks about the new summer lunch program that distributes lunches to needy children in Rindge on a weekly basis.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • First Congregational Church Rev. David L. Jadlocki talks about the new summer lunch program that distributes lunches to needy children in Rindge on a weekly basis.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

Green cloth bags filled with fresh apples, bananas, macaroni and cheese, tuna fish and other food staples are providing 10 week’s worth of lunch for 40 children from 17 Rindge families, thanks to “Got Lunch,” a new volunteer program that kicked off in June at the First Congregational Church.

“No child should have to go hungry,” said First Congregational Church member Sue Campbell of Rindge on Tuesday.

Campbell and fellow church member, Jean Raymond, of Jaffrey attended a workshop in February about the community-sponsored Got Lunch program in Laconia that provides free lunch for children who may otherwise go hungry during the summer months when school is not in session. Having volunteered at the Rindge Food Pantry for a number of years, Campbell said she recognized a similar need in the town of Rindge.

While Raymond said she thought it would take a year or so to get the program up and running, the First Congregational Church membership was so receptive to the idea that Rindge’s Got Lunch program began just a few months later. And the response from the community, Raymond said has been overwhelming.

First Congregational Church Rev David L. Jadlocki said at the church Tuesday that thanks to the help of the Rindge Food Pantry, as well as businesses, nonprofit organizations and private donors, the program will bring in enough food to make over 2,000 lunches over the course of the 10 weeks that school is not in session.

“We didn’t have the money to set aside when we committed to this program. We took a leap of faith and it’s worked,” Jadlocki said. “We’ve received donations of more than $3,500 to meet the need.”

According to information provided by the N.H. Department of Education’s Division of Program Support, nearly 500 students in grades one through 12 in the Jaffrey-Rindge School District qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Raymond said, “I never realized just how many children were without food in the summertime because they don’t go to school. I know some of these kids who we deliver to, and it just feels so good because I know we’re helping them.”

While families have to meet certain requirements to be eligible for free and reduced lunch through the school district, Jadlocki said all Rindge families with children are eligible for Got Lunch. “We don’t check finances,” he said.

Each Sunday morning, church volunteers fill about 25 grocery bags with nonperishable food items that are then distributed early Monday to needy families. The names of program participants are confidential, but each grocery bag is numbered to indicate to Campbell and Raymond its final drop off location.

The expectation, Jadlocki said, is that the program will grow in future years as more people become aware of it. “As long as there is a need we’ll be standing here looking to see how we can meet it,” he said.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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