By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — In a small room in the basement of the Congregational Church of Laconia, jammed with jars and cans of foodstuffs, Pastor Paula Gile held a check from the Caring for Others Committee of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church for $1,000 toward the annual budget of Got Lunch! Laconia, the program that provides needy school children with nutritious meals throughout the 11 weeks of their summer vacation.
The program, now on the eve of its sixth year, served 657 children from 294 families last summer and, Gile said, is budgeting to feed 700 this year as the numbers of schoolchildren in the city eligible for free or reduced price lunches has continued to rise. Gile said that the program budgets $120 for each child, which with 700 children amounts to $84,000.
Gile said that the program owes its success to a contribution of $35,000 from the Great Lakes Region Children's Auction together with donations from more than 70 community partners, including individuals, churches and businesses, and the efforts of more than 230 volunteers. She also stressed the role of five farms in the region that have collaborated to provide the program with fresh vegetables every week at wholesale prices.
Since the program began in 2011 Got Lunch! Laconia has served 120,504 lunches.
(Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the record on the donor of the $1,000.)
Lee Kruecheberg, the Rev. Paula Gile of the Congregational Church of Laconia, Barbara Ryder and the Rev. Jennifer Hitt of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (from left) are among some 230 volunteers for Got Lunch! Laconia who stock the larder, fill the bags and deliver the lunches to feed more than 650 schoolchildren during the summer. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).
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