Dining event helps feed hungry children

Dining event helps feed hungry children

22 Nov 2015

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Foodies packed Baldanza’s Natural Market Cafe on the night of Monday Nov. 16 for Bowls at Baldanza, a fundraiser for New Canaan-based Filling in the Blanks, which provides free weekend meals to school children in Stamford and Bedford. From left to right are, Shawnee Knight, co-founder of Filling in the Blanks, Tina Kramer, co-founder of Filling in the Blanks, Angela Baldanza, and Sandy Baldanza, owners of the restaurant. Photo: Rachel / Hearst Connecticut Media

By Martin B. Cassidy Published 12:00 am, Thursday, November 19, 2015

Town foodies packed into the candlelit confines of Baldanza Natural Market and Café on Elm Street Monday night to munch hor d’oeuvres and sip wine to help address the growing problem of childhood hunger among area children.

The ticketed event to kick off National Hunger and Homelessness Week drew more than 40 people for Bowls at Baldanza to try a series of soups made by Angela Baldanza and others, wines from Walter Stewart’s Market, with all proceeds going to New Canaan-based charity Filling in the Blanks, which provides weekend meals to kids who qualify for free or reduced price lunch at six schools and community centers in the area. The event, which cost $125 a head, raised enough money to pay for 1,000 meals, co- founder Shawnee Knight said.

Each Thursday, the charity delivers bags packed with food to supply 400 children who qualify for free or reduced price lunch with breakfast and lunch, a snack, and a piece of fresh fruit. Knight said she and Tina Kramer came up with the idea for the group while volunteering for Blessings in a Backpack to meet a need for children to get meals on weekends.

“Both of us had seen a big need and that we have so many kids in Connecticut on free and reduced cost lunch in our own backyard we both felt like something needed to be done,” Knight said.

The group is collecting donations to support its annual Holiday Backpack initiative to give each of the children it serves new bookbags containing holiday gifts and food. The group will collect new unisex backpacks, pancake mix, and syrup for the bags between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, and Tuesday, Dec. 1, on Elm Street.

This month, people can also buy books to be given as gifts at Elm Street Books, 35 Elm St. The group works with Grade A Shoprite in Stamford to buy the food used to provide meals on a regular basis, and relies on volunteers to pack the bags delivered to schools, Knight said.

“Childhood hunger is a big issue in our area, with one in five kids not knowing where there next meal is coming from,” Knight said. “But it is fixable, and it is manageable, we have kids who come that are four years old and they feel great they are doing something (to volunteer).”

To find out more information or donate to the group visit www.fillingintheblanks.org.

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