Wallowa County stepped up in a big way after Community Connections learned that funding for the summer free lunch program in Enterprise had been canceled.

In the week that followed that announcement, about a dozen businesses and individuals pledged money to keep the program going.

“We have $3,000 of our $3,200 goal,” said Community Connection Manager Connie Guentert.

Lunches are being served weekdays in Enterprise City Park.

Guentert had estimated the program costs about $100 per day of operation.

The Department of Humans Services (DHS)-funded program fed approximately 25 children (ages 1-18) last summer and Community Connections was geared up to provide again – this time with the help of Building Healthy Families. But DHS canceled funding when records showed that half of Enterprise families no longer needed the service.

That still left a lot of children without lunch and Community Connection Assistant Director Jeff Hensley could barely contain his disgust at the pencil-pushing that created a percentage requirement that left children without food. “It’s very aggravating,” he said. “We’ve been feeding children this long and then, all of a sudden, Enterprise is not eligible. It was a shock.”

Turns out that Wallowa County folk weren’t prepared to put up with the official determination, either.

“I have a whole list of people who have donated funds, from individuals to businesses – every single one of them local,” Guentert said.

In fact, this summer’s program is feeding more children in need than it did last summer. According to Guentert, the Wallowa County citizen-funded program is now feeding 30-35 kids (up from 20-25) in Enterprise Park.

Hensley is shocked in a different way, now. “This (result in Enterprise) is awesome,” he said. “Connie and her staff have done an awesome job and the community have stepped up in a big way.”

Guentert also had high praise for her staff, Building Healthy Families and her neighbors in Wallowa County. “Every one of us feel really good about being able to provide those lunches,” Guentert said.

To sponsor the final two days of the program contact either Connie Guentert or Jeanette Hibbert at Community Connection, 541-426-3840.

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