(Host) In Johnson, community members gather twice a month to ‘break bread’ together at a community lunch.
It’s a tradition that was started nearly four years ago by the Community Justice program. But about a year ago, after serving around 6,000 free lunches, that program decided it could no longer support the meal.
So the question was put to the Johnson community of how to sustain the tradition. Johnson State College’s Ellen Hill was one of the community leaders who answered the call.
She put the question to Aramark Dining Services – the company that provides meals to the college. She says Aramark took on the challenge without hesitation.
(Hill) "They took the program over, offering the meals last December. And just last month we’ve offered our thousandth meal, which is really exciting."
(Host) Hill says not only did Aramark save the community meal, it worked with the state to turn it into a job training program.
(Hill) "My understanding is that nine of the ten participants in that program have been hired somewhere in the food services network in our local community. So not only have they offered over a thousand meals to the community, they’ve also done a job training program. And really it’s ultimately about building community. Getting neighbors together and breaking bread, and having some fun together eating good, nutritious food."
(Host) Over a hundred community members turned out for the most recent meal. The next gathering is set for Wednesday, December 14th at Johnson United Church.