NEON, school board offer free lunches

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The Naugatuck Ecumenical Outreach Network (NEON) and Naugatuck Board of Education are each sponsoring a separate free lunch program for children this summer. NEON sponsored a pilot program last summer, and the board received information about a grant-sponsored program in the early spring of this year.

Audrey Sukovich of NEON has been with the free lunch program since its inception last year. “

We had about 50 kids getting lunch for six weeks,” she said. “Our problem was getting the message out to kids, other than through the Food Bank.”

This year, flyers went out to students in Naugatuck’s elementary and middle schools. The program, which is offered every weekday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., has had about 90 kids coming for lunch. Each child receives a sandwich, milk or juice, fruit, and cookies. Breyer’s of Naugatuck has donated YoCrunch yogurt for certain days as well.

The program is partially funded by a Episcopal Bishops Fund for Children grant NEON received in the spring.

“We have different teen and adult volunteers [working] everyday,” Sukovich said. “We’re planning to keep running through the rest of the summer, and we’re always willing to take more kids.”

The Board of Education’s free lunch program, which is funded through the Seamless Summer Program of the United States Department of Agriculture, will run for two weeks, from August 2-13. The program was discussed and implemented at the June board meeting. The first wave of lunches will be served at 11 a.m. at Hop Brook playground, and more will be served at 11:30 a.m. at Hop Brook pool. All students under the age of 18 are eligible. District food service employees will prepare between 80-90 lunches to start, and then adjust accordingly. Lunches will be given out on a first come, first served basis.