NEW CANAAN/STAMFORD, Conn. — Many students in the Domus program in Stamford qualify for free and reduced-priced meals while at school and may not get enough to eat on weekends. But thanks to Tina Kramer and Shawnee Knight of New Canaan, that won’t be the case for 100 of the students this year.
The women will work through Blessings in a Backpack, a national organization that provides food to kids in need. They will fill up backpacks with $4 worth of food for the kids to take home every Friday and return empty each Monday. Kramer and Knight raised the money for the local program.
Michael Duggan, executive director of Domus, was grateful for the help. “I said, ‘Oh my gosh, you are kidding me,' ” he said, describing his first reaction to hearing of the meals.
About 20 million kids in the country do not know where their next meal is coming from, Knight said, and they wanted to help reduce that number.
As mothers, the two have seen the benefits of having their kids be well fed and perform well in school. Knight said the Domus kids will be happier and be able to focus on their schoolwork better.
Duggan said that at Domus, a charter school for the most vulnerable kids in Stamford, a primary goal is to remove as many barriers each child faces. With about 90 percent of the students qualifying for the federal free or reduced-lunch program, hunger is a barrier for many. With children are no longer hungry, it makes it easier to teach them, Duggan said.
“They have a better chance to change their life status trajectory,” he said.
The duo was not alone in filling the backpacks. They enlisted the help of Grade A ShopRite and its dietitian, Jamie Lee McIntyre. The group then worked to make sure they were able to give the kids food that is both nutritious and easy to prepare, McIntyre said.
The grocery store also donated shelves for the women to store the food and rented a van to deliver 24 weeks of food to them.
Knight and Kramer also will be enlisting the help of local organizations looking to do community service to help pack and deliver the bags to Domus. On Thursday, they were assisted by the New Canaan Police Department’s special response team, State Rep. Tom O’Dea, R-New Canaan, and their kids with emptying the truck.
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