LACONIA — Got Lunch! Laconia launched its annual Eat Out for Got Lunch! week yesterday at T-Bones, one of nine participating restaurants at which people only have to mention to their server that they are supporting Got Lunch! and a portion of their check is donated to the program. People who ate at T-Bones, Cactus Jack's and Burrito Me on Monday were able to participate.
Got Lunch! Laconia is the program that proves summer meal makings to the families of children who qualify for free and reduced-price lunches at school during the school year. The program served 570 Laconia children in 2013 and expects to help feed more than 600 this summer. More than 200 volunteers were involved in the effort.
The program's fund-raising goal this year is $66,000 according to the Rev. Paula Gile of the Congregational Church of Laconia, UCC, who along with John Walker helped start the program four years ago. She said it costs about $110 per participant in the program, which runs for 10 weeks and starts this year on June 16.
''We need businesses to get on board,'' said Gile, who says that she is proud that the program has now spread to 12 other communities, and that all are patterned on the Laconia model.
She said that two major supporters of the program are AutoServ, whose employees make contributions matched by the firm, and Vista Foods in downtown Laconia, which is a large donor.
Irwin Marine has donated a 2014 Sea-Doo Spark 3up (3 seater) personal watercraft to be used a summer raffle prize to benefit the pioneering non-profit organization. The Sea-Doo features a new, innovative braking system and the prize includes a trailer.
"Irwin Marine's generous donation of this exciting, state of the art Sea-Doo will certainly provide great fun for the lucky Got Lunch!, Laconia Sea-Doo raffle winner," said Gile. ''But more importantly provide funds that enable us to provide much needed healthy lunches to Laconia's school children during the summer. Thank you Bill Irwin and your team for your commitment to feeding the children of Laconia."
Gile said raffle tickets are priced at $10 each (three for $20) and will go on sale in May and the drawing will be held on Aug. 4.
Another raffle prize will be four tickets to a Red Sox-Orioles game in early September which have been donated by Davis & Towle Insurance Co.
She said that Pleasant Street School recently donated $700 from funds it raised during School Spirit Week and that since it started four years ago has delivered 61,567 lunches to hundreds of school-age children in Laconia during the summer months.
The Eat Out for Got Lunch! program this week is expected to raise about $2,500 for the program.
Other participating restaurants are the Village Bakery and Brick Front today, Fratello's and Hectors on Wednesday and Tavern 27 and Patrick's Pub on Thursday.