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Meal program to help Groton families starts this week

Groton — Groton Senior Center Office Assistant Jennifer Meakem said she knows how important dinnertime is for families.

"Nobody should have to worry about how they're going to feed their family," Meakem said.

So she said she felt overwhelmingly excited that the Senior Center, along with other entities, is starting an effort to provide dinners twice a week to families and individuals struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Groton Senior Center, in collaboration with the Town of Groton Police Department, Groton Parks and Recreation, Groton Board of Education and Children First Groton, is rolling out this week a new program called the Community First Dinner Program, according to a news release.

The meal preparation, headed by Lynn Manza, a food service worker at the Senior Center, will be done at the Senior Center and then individually packaged to be distributed at several meal sites in Groton, Meakem said.

Beginning Wednesday, people can pick up dinner meals from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays at St. John's Christian Church at 346 Shennecossett Road; TVCCA at 38 Central Avenue; and Charles Barnum School at 68 Briar Hill Road.

Groton Rotary Club volunteers will help distribute the free meals, which will be available on a first come first served basis, Meakem said.

Groton Senior Center Program Supervisor Kathy Williams came up with the idea after seeing a clip on 60 Minutes about how Chef José Andrés turned restaurants into soup kitchens when the pandemic hit. To date, he's fed over 10 million people, Meakem said.

Williams was inspired to feed the people of Groton and got busy, overcoming every obstacle in her way to bring the program to fruition, Meakem said.

"Our community does so much for the Senior Center that we feel it's the perfect time to give back to the community," Williams said in a statement. "We want the residents of Groton to see that we are putting our Community First. All of us working together for the good of the community and residents during this pandemic time show the unity of Groton."

Meakem said the hope is to provide the meals for about 6 weeks.

Sponsors William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund Covid Relief and Harford Healthcare provided support, along with community members, according to the release.

People who wish to donate to the meal program can send monetary donations to the Senior Center, drop off donations during normal business hours, use a credit card over the phone or search for Community First Evening Meal Campaign Donation at www.grotonrec.com to make a donation online.

k.drelich@theday.com

Editor's Note: This version corrects the name of St. John's Christian Church.

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