On a regular Saturday, the parking lot at Victoria Soto Elementary School in Stratford’s south end sees some 150 families come through for a monthly food pickup from the Connecticut Food Bank. Lately, however, those numbers have nearly doubled. And the same teachers who have spent the first Saturday of every month this school year volunteering to distribute food have stepped it up to accommodate the growing number of families struggling to make ends meet.
Back in September, Victoria Soto kindergarten teacher Judee McMellan spearheaded the food donation effort with the Connecticut Food Bank. Her school, which serves grades K-1, shares a campus and driveway with Stratford Academy Johnson House, for grades 2-6. Colleagues from both buildings as well as Franklin Elementary and other Stratford schools joined in the project, forming a corps of nearly 30 volunteers whose ranks also included custodial staff, administrators, family members of teachers, a board of education member, a town official, and local high school students.
“My school is in a low-income neighborhood,” says McMellan, who has spent the last 37 years of her 40-year career in Stratford. “There is tremendous need in our community as well as a huge outpouring of support.” Read more