BRADFORD — Kids, and their parents, have one less thing to worry about this summer.
For students on summer break, fixing lunch for themselves and their siblings can be a chore that is often put off. For parents, knowing that their children might not eat right while they are at work, is also a constant worry.
Bradford resident Dottie Carder recognized this issue and decided to do something about it. Carder spearheaded an idea to see every school-age child in the village would have access to a good lunch, every day.
Thanks to the efforts of Carder, a dedicated group of volunteers, and donations by many, this summer is seeing Bradford kids not only eating hot and nutritious lunches every day, but also allowing them an opportunity to socialize with both adults and their peers.
Carder secured the Bradford Community Club at 147 N. Miami St. as the location for the program. She then began fundraising in order to be able to purchase food items. Initial fund-raising efforts secured some $6,000 in donations.
The program began when school ended and will continue for 11 weeks and weekends.
Each Friday, the volunteers send children home with sack lunches to ensure that kids have enough to eat over the weekend. Carder said that over the recent long Fourth of July weekend, kids were sent home with a double sack lunch.
The variety of food varies. Some days are more home-cooked food. One day every week is pizza day, with pizza furnished by Carder’s family business, Clark’s Pizza. An upcoming item on the menu is chicken, courtesy of Lee’s Famous Recipe.
Volunteers said that Dannon Yogurt also has supplied as much yogurt as needed each week.
The lunch program is open from 11 a.m. to noon Monday-Friday to all Bradford residents up to 18 years old. The program has been averaging around 65 children each day.
A group of approximately 15-20 volunteers staff the hall each day, serving food and cleaning up. Some of the kids also pitch in with cleanup efforts.
The group’s efforts don’t stop with lunches. The group is offering no-cost haircuts for kids. Carder said that Shoes for the Shoeless program also is supplying free shoes to those in need.
With a new school year approaching, Carder’s efforts are also turning to seeing that Bradford kids have bookbags and school supplies.
Another fund-raising effort is soon to be undertaken by Carder and her volunteers in order to continue to provide lunches and necessary items for Bradford’s school children.
Carder stays very low-key about her efforts, saying, ” I do love my community and especially the kids. They have all blessed us as much as we have them.”
Carder’s mother, Thelma Clark, founded Clark’s Pizza and was known for her tireless efforts to give back to the community. Her family has seamlessly stepped up to continue those efforts to make Bradford a better community.
Anyone wishing to donate or learn more about the Bradford summer lunch program can contact Carder at (937) 418-3833.
Reach Mike Ullery at firstname.lastname@example.org
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