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Logo Courtesy Feed Branford Kids )
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About seven years ago, the late Johanne Pantani's family gave her a Christmas gift that has been giving back to Branford ever since: a backpack with a lunchbox inside. The lunchbox was filled with seed money which helped Pantani and a handful of close friends found a grass-roots, all-volunteer group, Feed Branford Kids (FBK).
Previously operated under the auspices of non-profit Branford Food Pantry, FBK recently earned non-profit 501(c)3 status as its own charitable entity, announced FBK board of directors president Kristine Klarman on February 28, 2019.
Pantani established FBK in 2012 by gathering friends and family including Pat Andriole, Sue Barnes, Carol Stewart and Wendy Cowles to join her as charter members. Sadly, Pantani passed away in February 2018, but her legacy continues.
Every week of the school year, FBK provides wholesome and nutritious take-home weekend meals to Branford pre-K through elementary school children in need. Currently, FBK assists over 200 elementary school children across town by discreetly providing non-perishable food, placed in backpacks brought home by participants each Friday.
"The bags are packed on Wednesday morning and distributed through the school social workers on Friday afternoon. The program is completely anonymous," noted Klarman.
When FBK was established, 24 percent of all Branford Public School students qualified for free or reduced cost lunches. Now, that number has increased to 35 percent, Klarman added. FBK's goal continues to be to provide Branford students in need with food for the weekends.
FBK's Board of Directors includes Klarman, Theresa Borchetta, Vice President, Dr. Carol Stewart, Secretary, Renee Pantani, Treasurer and board members Pat Andriole, Susan Barnes, Wendy Cowles, Kerry Haynes, Ginger Vickstrom, Judy Hall and Cassie Carangelo.
Board members and volunteers work to generate support for the mission of FBK with funds raised through grants, events, programs and generous donations from individuals, local civic organizations and businesses. One program offers donors the option to sponsor one child's meals for an entire school year with a contribution of $250. To make a donation or learn more, visit www.feedbranfordkids.com
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