November 4, 2013 02:19PM
By Jesse Buchanan
SOUTHINGTON — Bread for Life’s Planning and Zoning application to build a new meal kitchen for residents in need next to Derynoski School is on hold until December as the Board of Education tries to help it find a different location.
Some Derynoski parents opposed the meal kitchen with concerns about patrons who might hang around school grounds. A committee is trying to find an alternative site in the downtown area.
School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr. said the search committee includes Bread for Life representatives, Board of Education Chairman Brian Goralski, Town Councilor Chris Palmieri and two Derynoski parents. The group met twice last month and is scheduled to meet again on Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. in the superintendent’s conference room in the Municipal Center, 200 N. Main St.
“We’re currently in conversations with two alternate sites,” Erardi said.
William McDougall, Bread for Life board chairman, said the group requested and received a 60-day extension on its planning application after Erardi suggested looking for other locations.
“We’ve looked at several locations and now we’re narrowing them down and investigating them further,” McDougall said.
“We’re working together and it’s going well,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it, we’re thrilled to work with the education system.”
Several members of the committee contacted Thursday declined to comment, saying they were in negotiations over possible sites and that McDougall and Erardi were the group’s spokesmen.
Erardi and McDougall declined to name the sites that are under consideration. Some are town owned and others are not, McDougall said. About a dozen sites were considered by the committee.
Bread for Life is looking for a building with 3,200 square feet of space and a basement for food storage, according to McDougall. The building also needs to be in the downtown area to allow easy access for patrons.
If nothing is found by the end of the zoning extension on Dec. 17, Bread for Life will continue with its plan for a new meal kitchen next to Derynoski School on Main Street, according to McDougall.
Bread for Life and the school district often collaborate, Erardi said. The meal kitchen funds the school’s breakfast program while schools have conducted numerous food drives on behalf of the meal kitchen.
“Bread for Life does way too many good things to be controversial, and clearly the site they chose was extremely controversial,” Erardi said. “Bread for Life is an enormous partner with the Board of Education.”
Goralski said involving the school board in the search for a new site could smooth conflict.
“Rather than be adversaries, it’s best to work together,” he said.
Bread for Life prepares and distributes 35,000 meals annually.
Food is prepared in a kitchen and served in a dining hall that Bread for Life rents from Masonic Friendship Lodge 33 on 76 Main St. Bread for Life’s food supply is stored in the lower level of the YMCA, as well as in the TD Bank building and a refrigerator and freezer at the rear of St. Paul’s Church.
The dining hall on Main Street opens from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day and about 15 to 20 Southington residents come for lunch.