In 2013, summer meals were served in all Maine counties for the first time, and the Maine DOE hopes to expand the program even further this year
AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education is seeking organizations to help provide low-income children healthy meals when school is not in session this summer.
Last summer, the Summer Food Service Program, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and administered by the Maine DOE, served 567,000 meals to children at more than 300 sites. Thanks to 97 sponsors, 2013 marked the first year the program was able to offer meals in all 16 Maine counties, and the Department hopes to expand to even more sites this summer.
The summer program may be offered statewide in areas or at sites in which more than 50 percent of the children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program, or in which census track data supports the need. Organizations that provide services in rural communities or near migrant farm workers and American Indian populations are urged to participate.
Eligible sponsoring organizations include public or private schools, nonprofit residential summer camps, government agencies such as recreation programs and tax-exempt organizations including faith-based organizations. Potential sites where children can come to receive nutritious meals and snacks include schools, parks, playgrounds, housing projects, day camps, recreation centers, migrant centers, community centers and churches.
The Maine DOE is currently accepting applications for sponsors, with a major need for more meal sites in Franklin, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Washington and Hancock Counties. Approved sponsors will be reimbursed at established federal rates for all meals served to children.
Interested organizations should begin planning now as sponsors are required to participate in trainings, with current workshops scheduled Feb. 27 for experienced sponsors and April 17 for new sponsors.
“Schools may take a summer vacation, but hunger does not,” said Acting Education Commissioner Jim Rier. “Our Department is committed to ensuring Maine children continue to receive nutritious meals even after school closes for summer so they can grow, learn and play, and we’re able to do thanks to the support of generous organizations willing to serve as site sponsors.”
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