Alice Lehr loves to cook and bake so much that now she’s doing it for strangers.
, started a new North Branford this month, which provides home-cooked meals for people who can’t get out of the house.
The program, which is headquartered at the , started on Jan. 17. Lehr said she and the other volunteers cooked up two different meals and delivered them, one hot and one to heat up the following day, to 16 people who were screened for eligibility by the staff of the town .
"It’s for short-term needs," she said. The recipients are people who are recovering from surgery or illness.
Lehr said although she is a bookkeeper by profession, but she has plenty of experience cooking for many people.
She was born in Branford and has lived in North Branford for 52 years with her husband, Loren, a retired claims litigation specialist. Years ago, she started as a substitute cook at the cafeteria at . After a while they hired her permanently.
Next she ran an industrial cafeteria at Picker International for 12 years. "I did all the cooking, the hiring and firing," she said.
After the company was purchased by Honeywell International, she opted to transfer to the purchasing department where she worked until she retired in 2000.
That was the year she was written up in Yankee Magazine after her children tipped off the periodical about her annual eggnog and cookie party for which she would bake about 2,500 cookies and invite all her relatives and friends in early December.
"I love to cook," she said, noting that she also has a garden to grow fresh vegetables to cook every year.
Lehr and Farley, who has a horse farm in North Branford, were volunteer cooks at the Branford Community Dining Room last year when someone suggested they start a satellite meals delivery program in their hometown.
Lehr said the congregational church had received a financial gift from a retired minister. "He and his wife were married in our church," Lehr said. The church council okayed the use of some of the money to start the meals delivery program, which Lehr and Farley run with the help of their team.
The other volunteers come from the , the Northford and North Branford women’s clubs, the and the Senior Center.
"We've really got a nice group of people," Lehr said. "It pleases me that so many people are willing to help someone out."
Many local businesses also chipped in with donated funds and food items. "Everything we use is donated. That’s how the program is surviving," Lehr said.
She said anyone who wishes to make a donation, either of food items or a financial gift, may contact the North Branford Congregational Church at 203-488-8456.