NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) Lunch time is a busy time at the New London Community Meal Center.
“Here you go how about some bread?” asks Peta Madry, who manages the kitchen and mans the serving line.
“We’re serving about seven thousand or over in a month,” Madry said. She sees ten new people each day, some of them children.
“Sometimes they try to come in without parents, you know?” says Madry. “So you’re talking about kids that need to eat.”
She and her staff of volunteers serve lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, while local churches provide the meals on the weekends. There are just two paid employees at the meal center, and 350 volunteers.
“They volunteer their services for us from the kindness of their heart,” says Brian Chapman, who eats at the meal center every day and helps out when he can. “We need it.”
It costs $187,000 a year to keep the meal center running, but recent repairs and less grant money coming in has left just $26,000 in this year’s budget. So, in just two months, the center could close.
“With all the stuff that was happening on our roof and our condensers and things like that, it cost almost $20,000 between all the different repairs,” said John Kamishlian, who is president of the non-profit’s board of directors. “One repair could wipe us out now.”
Brian Chapman worries what will happen if people can no longer come here for a hot meal.
“This place keeps, I believe, a lot of crime down, because at least they have food in their stomachs,” Chapman said.
Desperate times have been avoided for some, but not for this 30 year old non-profit, whose time may be running out unless more money is raised.
“Every little bit helps,” says Kamishlian. “It’s the volume that would be better. We’re not asking people to dig deep. We’re just asking a volume of people to be aware.”