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Community Dining Room: Driven to Serve

Twenty five years and serving, the CDR's services and needs continue to grow.

In just twenty-five years, the has grown from a basement operation in the Baptist Church to a multi-faceted community resource, not just serving the needs of Branford, but the shoreline at large. While the programs offered by CDR continue to expand, so do the clients and the need for volunteers.

According to Executive Director Patricia Kral, the 2010 CDR report was one of good news ­– 47,290 meals were served, however the overall meal service for CDR increased 8.5 percent over last year. Also on the rise is the home delivery and Wednesday night take out meal services, which have jumped 12.9 percent since 2009.

The home delivery program serves-up nearly 500 meals every week for recipients, who are mostly made up of elderly Branford residents and those with special needs. Deliveries are made to people’s homes Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons and every drop includes one hot lunch and two frozen meals for the days delivery is not running.

On a Friday, there were 54 homes to be served and six drivers to courier the food. Betsy Klarman, who started with CDR back when it was the Soup Cellar, is now a driver and delivers several times a week. Her typical deliveries take just an hour but she spends more time than that checking in on her regular recipients and meeting new participants.

Klarman doesn’t just knock on a door and drop off food either; she checks in on her clients and calls each by name to make sure they know their meals have arrived. Part of an important procedure, reports Klarman, is checking to see that every recipient has retrieved the previous meal. Klarman explains that if she arrives at a home and a meal, which may have been left outside is still there, she will call the client’s family, caregiver or even authorities to ensure the person is not injured or in need of help.

In addition to home delivery, there is a Wednesday night take out program offered to families who want to pick-up meals rather than dine-in (call 203-488-0447 for more information). Traditional services at CDR also include lunch Sunday-Friday and the second and fourth Saturday, noon- 1 p.m.; Tuesday family dinner and story time, 5:30 p.m.; and Saturday breakfast, 9 – 10 a.m.

These programs are just part of the many services the CDR offers and the need is great for the entire operation. Interested volunteers can inquire about becoming an alternate home delivery driver, kitchen volunteer, meal server, friendly visitor and more by calling 203-488-9750 or visiting www.communitydiningroom.org.

The CDR will also be hosting its annual walk-a-thon Mother’s Day Weekend. CDR is looking for participants to form groups to raise funds. If you are interested, please call 203-488-9750.  

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