SOUTHINGTON – A summer food program for children who might otherwise go hungry got a huge boost in boost in December thanks to a generous donation made by a Southington couple.

Curtis D. Robinson and his wife, Sheila, made the personal check presentation to Bread for Life in support of expanding the summer feeding program; in 2014, healthy snacks and bottled water were delivered each weekday to youngsters in two locations in town.

Several years ago, thanks to an initial donation from the Robinsons, Bread for Life collaborated with Southington Schools to introduce a breakfast program, which has grown from two schools to all 11. “Now we want to expand the summer feeding program when there is no school,” said Eldon Hafford, Bread for Life executive director.

Over the course of several months, Hafford met with the principals from two elementary schools and learned there are 200 students at just these two sites who receive free and reduced lunch. If needed, some of these same children could receive a meal or food during the summer if Bread for Life expands its summer program. Ideas are still being explored to determine what would be the best approach, target areas and delivery.

For nearly 30 years, Bread for Life has provided food services through a soup kitchen and food programs to serve the homeless, senior citizens and the homebound who would otherwise go hungry.

“It is my understanding that 20 percent of people in Connecticut go to bed hungry. As long as Sheila and I live in Southington, no one is going to go hungry, it’s just not going to happen,” Curtis D. Robinson said.

Robinson has a long history of helping people in need. Five years ago, he donated $1 million to Saint Francis Care to establish the Curtis D. Robinson Center for Health Equity in the Asylum Hill section of Hartford. The center serves the community by promoting optimal health through education, research, engagement and health advocacy, and works with grassroots neighborhood organizations, health professionals, foundations and other entities to eliminate health disparities for those who have no insurance or access to health care in the Saint Francis Care service area.

Marcus M. McKinney, D.Min., LPC, vice president of Community Health Equity at Saint Francis and director of the Curtis D. Robinson Center, explained that Saint Francis Care’s mission is to reach out to communities in promoting wellness. “Hospitals traditionally treat people when they are sick but the smarter, more progressive and more contemporary approach is wellness including things that we are talking about today, eliminating barriers that keep wellness from happening,” McKinney said, during the check presentation that was held at the Bread for Life office.

He referred to this approach as people-centered care, rather than patient-centered care. Societal barriers – such as lack of the availability of healthy food and means to exercise as well as fear of safety – can impede wellness, he said. It is essential to develop a partnership between the health care community, schools, organizations and municipalities to best provide people with the essentials while preserving their dignity, he said. “It’s really about shepherding and bringing people together,” McKinney said. “This is large in scope but with the right partnership it is doable.”

The Robinsons’ donation puts this philosophy in action by funding the summer feeding program Bread for Life will now be able to expand, he said. The program will be named in honor of Curtis and Sheila Robinson.

“God has given us these gifts and we just want to give back to the least among us,” Robinson said.

For more information about Bread for Life, visit the website, call the office at (860) 276-8389 or visit the Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Bread for Life
Gathering at Bread for Life for a check donation to the summer feeding program are, from left, Lawrence Young, Health Equity fellow, Curtis D. Robinson Center for Health Equity; Curtis D. Robinson; Sheila Robinson; Marcus McKinney, the vice president of Community Health Equity and director of the Curtis D. Robinson Center; and Eldon Hafford, executive director of Bread for Life.

Robin Lee Michel​ (for Bread for Life)​
freelance writer
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