In Maine, more than 80,000 children depend on the National School Lunch Program, but during the summer months, only 16% of that population get the food they need. The Good Shepherd Food Bank and community volunteers want to put a stop to that.
“It’s true that 1 in 4 children in Maine are facing hunger or have food insecurities, but when you see programs like this coming together, we know we real can make a difference and improve that statistic,” said Clara McConnell, Communications Manager at Good Shepherd.
For the first time in Bangor, Good Shepherd Food Bank has launched three summer lunch sites. McConnell says, “It’s just a wonderful celebration of all these organizations coming together to end childhood hunger in Bangor.”
In order to get meals, all you need to do is show up!
“This is an open site, any child or person under 18 can just come in, they don’t have to file any paperwork,” James Arena-DeRosa, USDA Regional Administrator said.
But it isn’t just about the food.
“The kids not only get the meals, but activities. And our goal is to have all our children, healthy, fit and ready to learn in September,” DeRosa explains.
Feeding students throughout the summer helps prepare them for a better school year ahead.
Department of Education Program Manager, Gail Lombari states,”Kids that have meals attend school at a higher rate, there’s less problems, they score higher on tests, so there’s all kinds of reasons why it’s important to our communities.
And the kids love it.
“The kids are having fun, you put up a bouncy house and the kids don’t complain,” McConnel laughed.
Each meal comes with fruits, vegetables and protein, known as the “healthy meal plate.” Free lunch will be served monday through friday at the Fairmount School, Capeheart Community Center and Griffin Park. Those involved hope this summer food program encourages other towns to do the same thing next year.