Elvina Deluca, 89, Ridgefield native, ran school lunch program

Elvina Franceschini Deluca of Ridgefield, who ran Ridgefield’s school lunch program for 25 years in the days when meals were “home cooked,” died on Saturday evening, July 21, 2012 at Masonicare of Newtown. She was 89 years old and wife of the late Sylvester Deluca, who operated Deluca’s Footwear here.

Mrs. Deluca was born in Ridgefield, August 6, 1922, daughter of Peter and Cesira Cechini Franceschini. She attended Ridgefield schools and graduated from Ridgefield High School in 1940.

She was employed with the Ridgefield Board of Education as director of the School System Lunch Program, a position she held from 1960 to 1985. During that period, before the schools contracted out the cafeteria service, meals were prepared from scratch each day in the cafeterias, often by Ridgefield women who were also the cooks for the Italian American Mutual Aid Society — famed for its banquet meals. Although they were operated by the school board, the cafeterias Mrs. Deluca ran were self-supporting.

Paul Hazel, who was the schools’ personnel director for many years, said that Mrs. Deluca “ran school lunch during the years when the program paid for itself, a success which is unmatched in Ridgefield and most everywhere since. She was hard-nosed and warm-hearted, fair to the women who worked in her department and respected by everyone else.”

Mr. Hazel added, “It was rumored that she kept underground lakes of tomato sauce in the caverns under Veterans Park. It may be true. I will miss her.”

Mrs. Deluca was also involved in designing the cafeterias for the many schools that were built in the 1960s and 70s.

Mr. and Mrs. Deluca resided in Rhode Island from 1985 to 2000. Mrs. Deluca returned to live in Ridgefield upon the death of her husband in 2000. She was a member of St. Mary Parish, Ridgefield.

She enjoyed cooking and sewing.

Mrs. Deluca is survived by two sons, Frank Deluca of Long Island, NY, and James Deluca of Ridgefield; a sister, Libera Batazzi of Florence, Italy; three grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Graveside funeral services and burial will take place on Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 1:30 PM in St. Mary Cemetery, Ridgefield with Msgr. Laurence Bronkiewicz, pastor, officiating.

There will be no calling hours.

Kane Funeral Home, 25 Catoonah St., Ridgefield is in charge of arrangements.