Composer and pianist Chris Bakriges.
Composer and pianist Chris Bakriges. (Courtesy photo)

WEST DOVER >> The Loose Knit Group at the West Dover Congregational Church searched for a project that would help children.

"After a lot of investigation, we came upon this program, which is in a number of cities and states across the country," Barbara Hyde said, referring the Food 4 Kids. "They package in one form or another, either a backpack or a bag, nonperishable food for children on Friday afternoon."

That enables students to take food home for the weekend. Sometimes, Hyde said, the supply is enough for one day. Other times, it's for two days.

The plan is to start the program at Twin Valley Elementary School in early October.

"Eventually, we hope to go to Dover School," said Hyde.

A combination of musical performance and art workshop at the church on Oct. 2 at 10:30 a.m. will see freewill donations going to the local Food 4 Kids chapter. Hyde's group will then go out and purchase things like individual cereal packets, granola bars, apple sauce and other food.

Their name came about because they "don't have a lot of rules and regulations," Hyde said.

"We don't have bylaws but we get together and we raise money for the church and the community," she said. "It's not all church women. Some are just women in the community interested in helping."


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Composer Chris Bakriges, who plays piano at the church and fundraisers at Memorial Hall in Wilmington, will give Food 4 Kids 25 percent of any of the sales from his double compact disc of original material inspired by paper cuts made by Henry Matisse that were published in Matisse's book "Jazz." Matisse started putting scissors to paper after he was no longer able to paint due to illness and reduced mobility later in life.

Bassist Shigefumi Tomita.
Bassist Shigefumi Tomita. (Courtesy photo)

"Teaching the Eye to Hear: Creative Reflections on Matisse's 'Jazz'" will pair Bakriges and bassist Shigefumi Tomita up with some students from Dover School in an event featuring original music, narration and new artwork inspired by Matisse's work.

"This is really cool because it's a start up out here," Bakriges said of Food 4 Kids. "The statistics were pretty sobering, how many kids actually don't get three square meals in these parts."

Twin Valley Elementary School Principal Rebecca Fillion said about 52 percent of the kids attending her school are eligible for free and reduced lunch.

"We know families appreciate and use any resources we can offer to support the well being of their children. We know that nutrition needs being met makes children more available for learning in school," Fillion said. "We are looking forward to seeing how the program goes. We hope to bring in more students and maybe even expand to other schools."

One in every five kids in the Green Mountain State experiences hunger or food hardship, according to Hunger Free Vermont. From 2012 to 2014, 13 percent of all Vermont households were food insecure, meaning they lacked access to enough food to fully meet their basic needs due financial restraints. Over 20,000 children under the age of 18 were living in these types of households.

This marks the second year Bakriges will bring the Matisse project to the West Dover church. He looks at it as potentially introducing live music and a new art form to a younger audience.

"It's been playing all over the place because I think it holds a lot of excitement for people, to be able to think about something like this as an interdisciplinary idea," he said. "I've had a lot of success with it thus far. It's great that something like this, helping Food 4 Kids, can have kids involved doing art in real time with images being show and music playing."

Since starting the chapter and collecting coins at the church about two months ago, Hyde has noticed that other people too were not aware of the issue. She has learned about the number of local students eligible for free and reduced lunches.

"Many people are not aware that there are children in our community that do not have enough food to eat. You think of the Deerfield Valley as a lovely place and there's some lovely homes and people go skiing and have money to buy boats," Hyde said. "But there is a segment of our population that they may not even know about that really are hungry."

A goal has been established. The Loose Knit Group is going to identify all the children in need through school principals in Dover and Wilmington.

Private contributions have been provided to help with the effort. The Deerfield Valley Rotary has given the group a grant. Donations also came in at a fundraiser at the Welcome Center on Interstate 91. There are plans to bake and sell pies around Thanksgiving time. Checks can be written out to LKG and sent to the West Dover Congregational Church at 104 Route 100 North, West Dover, VT, 05356.

Call Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.