Calais Area Offered Summer Children’s Meals

By Dorothy Johnson and Joan Perry

 

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Agency held a meeting to explain a new program being offered by the federal government. This program, which will provide food through the summer to children in the county, is being offered because of the high percentage of free and reduced lunches provided during the school year. The thought behind the program is that if as many children qualify for free or reduced lunches during the school year, what happens to these children in the summer.

Although city administrators Diane Barnes, Marianne Moore and Toby Cole had already expressed interest in the program, only Joan Perry was able to attend the meeting to represent this area.

The program will need a sponsor who will prepare the meals (bag lunches), pack them and deliver them to designated sites where volunteers will distribute them. This sponsor will be the record keeper on government reimbursements which will cover the cost of the purchasing, preparing and dispensing the food. B.J. Wallace, food service of the Alexander Elementary School, has expressed interest in being the sponsor for this area. She has access to a certified kitchen and is familiar with all the regulations regarding food. Schools in Calais were approached and do not wish to be part of this project.

Sites can be any place where children congregate in the summer, i.e., recreation programs, schools, skate parks, play grounds, libraries, church schools, etc. Each site would need a shelter (tent, canopy) to keep the sun off the food. Children can picnic on the grass. Site volunteers will need to keep records of numbers served and how extra lunches were handled.

Jon Speed, director of Greenland Point, is applying to be a sponsor at the camp, which has a qualified kitchen and could also serve as a site. Tis sponsor could handle the Princeton/Baileyville area.

Alan Majka, the coordinator of this program for Washington County, works for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. He will set up meetings in any area of the county when he has volunteers that show interest in participating. Meetings need to be coordinated as soon as possible because the application for sponsor needs to be in by the end of April in order to qualify for some free foods made available through the U.S. FDA surplus. Later applications are acceptable but the sponsor will not qualify for free food. Alan may be reached at 207-255-3345 or 1-800-287-1542 or alan.majka@maine.edu.

Gail Lombardi, a worker with the Department of Education Child Nutrition Services, is also involved in this program. She is based in Portland but will field questions from interested parties. She may be reached at 207-624-6876 or gail.lombardi@maine.gov.

Local statistics on students eligible for free or reduced lunches are frightening and support the establishment of this program in our area. For example: 57.69% of students at Alexander Elementary School qualify for free or reduced lunch, 64.29% at Woodland Elementary School, 64% at Calais Elementary School, 62.86% at Pembroke Elementary School, 62.89% at Perry Elementary School, 70% at Princeton Elementary School, 58.7% at Robbinston Grade School, 78.57% at East Range II School (Topsfield area) and 55.56% at Charlotte Elementary School.

This is a program that needs the support of volunteers. Please contact the people listed above or Toby Cole (Calais), Mike Boies (Baileyville) or Jon Speed (Greenland Point/Princeton area).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

to keep records of numbers served and extra lunches were handled.