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Supper Program Fills A Need At Ellsworth Avenue School In Danbury

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty visits with students at the supper program at Ellsworth Avenue Elementary School in Danbury. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Kids enjoy their free dinner following the afterschool programs at Ellsworth Avenue Elementary. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

DANBURY, Conn. – Parents with children in the afterschool programs at Ellsworth Avenue Elementary School in Danbury don’t have to worry about fixing their kids dinner thanks to a supper program provided through End Hunger Connecticut!

The program is provided by the federal Child and Adult Food Care Program for schools with 50 percent of children who receive free or reduced-price meals. About 70 children who take part in the afterschool enrichment programs between 3 and 6 p.m. are provided a free, nutritious meal every day of the week. The supper program at Ellsworth Avenue Elementary was implemented last year and is the first of its kind in Danbury.

Dawn Crayco, deputy director of End Hunger Connecticut!, said the goal is to make sure that students eat three meals a day. Schools are reimbursed for the meals by the CACFP program, which is run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Barry Mollengarden, general manager for food services at the school, said the students enjoy the meals they receive, and get the opportunity to savor it a bit more than at lunch, where they are a little more rushed and often in a hurry to get out to recess. Nutrition is a big component of the program, he said, which makes sure that kids receive a delicious entree, as well as fruits, vegetables and milk.

“They think it’s the greatest thing in the world. And for parents, it reduces the pressure and the burden of figuring out what they’re going to feed their kids when they get home,” Mollengarden said.

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District stopped by the school to check out the supper program Tuesday evening. She was impressed with the program and said it provided a critical service.

“The success of the extended day program is dependent upon having the supper program because it provides kids with the energy to learn, and also an inducement to stay for the program,” Esty said. “Having access to healthy food every day is essential to learning.”

About 75 percent of the students at the school qualify for free or reduced-price meals. The school also provides a breakfast program, as well as meals during its summer program.

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