Eating Right, Fueling Minds

Sep 13, 2023

The Salvation Army has concluded its second summer reading program, Eating Right, Fueling Minds, with another season of great success! Held in Bridgeport, Danbury, and Stamford, Connecticut, this program distributes children’s books but offers much more. Children in the community are treated to books, crafts, and lunch. The Salvation Army believes that little minds and bodies need healthy choices to thrive. 

In Danbury, The Salvation Army partnered with The Danbury Housing Authority to hold their Storybook Picnic, where the team engaged the community and distributed books directly to children. Tables were set up, crafts provided, and food trucks served kid-friendly food options.

When asked about this program and the partnership’s impact on the local community, Amanda Decarvalho, the Family Self Sufficiency Coordinator for the Danbury Housing Authority, shared, “I work with families, so I like to give as many resources toward the community as possible. We’re getting books into children’s hands, and we’re feeding families as well; I think that’s amazing.”

For Major Gil Parkhurst officer in charge of the Danbury Salvation Army, reading holds a personal value to him and his family, “I have two boys and know how important it was reading to them when they were little; the difference that it made to their education as they got older."

The Salvation Army’s Major BethEllen Parkhurst shares her experience, “One afternoon, I had the opportunity to talk with the children in the summer reading program. I see this as a chance to learn from the children. I try to step into their shoes for a few minutes and see the world through their eyes. So often, I need to figure out what the popular toys, books, and fun games are for an elementary school-age child.”

One little girl came to the Storybook Picnic carrying her own stuffed unicorn. She wished aloud that there could be a book about unicorns. Suddenly, there it was, “Mom, Mom, I got the book!” she cried out.

The Danbury officers also set up an area for crafts. The children had a blast putting bracelets together and looking at felt that inspired a beach scene with a palm tree and coconuts.  Reading and crafts took the children and adults on an adventure! During the adventure, two girls realized that they were in the same grade and attended the same school. A budding friendship was planted today that may last beyond the upcoming school year.

Without the help of a generous donor who is passionate about reading, summer programs like this would not be possible.

The enthusiasm continues in Stamford, where The Salvation Army’s Major Kimberly Smith and her team partnered with Chartwells, who believe serving healthy and nutritious food provides a foundation for lifelong learning. Over 200 children received books and a healthy lunch in just one afternoon.

In Bridgeport, where Majors Katherine Longcoy and Captain Allison Bethel are the officers, the program ran Monday through Friday at lunchtime and took place at the Trumbull Gardens. “We’re here to serve the community. We know the children typically are provided breakfast and lunch at school, we want to make sure they don’t miss out,” said Major Longcoy.

We know that The Salvation Army does excellent work with adults, but its compassion and commitment to all, big and small, makes the organization unique. 

Rafael, a Danbury parent, shared the excitement this program creates for his young daughter. “When we got the letter, my daughter said, ‘Dad, we have to go!’”  

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