Donations, grants help Ulbrich Boys & Girls Club in Wallingford combat food insecurity

WALLINGFORD — The Ulbrich Boys & Girls Club is using a grant, donations and a partnership with the school system to help combat food insecurity locally.

“As an organization, as a Boys & Girls Club, we run programs that provide academic success, character and leadership development and healthy lifestyles, so whenever we receive donations, we want to make sure that it helps us in providing those types of services,” said club Executive Director Carlos Collazo. 

Collazo said that one type of donation the club receives is snacks. Recently a variety of snacks were donated to the club by Master’s Manna, a local food pantry.   

“Depending on the time of year, what kind of donation it is, like snacks, we’re able to provide snacks not only during our after school program, but depending on the amount of snacks we receive, we’re also able to provide snacks for families to take home as well,” Collazo said. 

The club’s Area Director Jermaine Mitchell said that when the club receives large donations of snacks, they let families know their child will be bringing food home. 

“We have an app, which is called Bloomz, and it’s a communication tool that we utilize to interact with our parents,” Mitchell said. “We put a lot of the extra stuff that we have, we put it on a table ... parents are able to come in at the end of the day when they are picking up their children ... and they can take as much as they want.”

The club received a $150,000 grant through the Boys & Girls Club of America that will help support a program to combat food insecurity locally by providing students in need with a backpack full of food once a week. 

“What we’re planning on doing is partnering up with local food pantries and Wallingford Public Schools to help support those food insecurities,” Collazo said. 

Aimee Turner, assistant superintendent for special education for Wallingford Public Schools, said that they are going to identify those that are in immediate need so they can provide them with food on a weekly basis.

“A lot of (students), their free lunch and breakfast at school is really a good portion of the food that they’re able to get,” Turner said.

“So the backpack program in essence is providing those families that struggle with getting food on a regular basis some nutritional options for the weekend.”

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