Recently, five members of Maine Department of Education’s School Finance and Operations Team were recognized for their work in summer meals for students.
Child Nutrition Specialist Gail Lombardi and Outreach Coordinator Jamie Curley along with Child Nutrition Coordinator Walter Beesley were recognized at the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services Summer Summit in Boston last month. Maine was one of four New England states in the Food Research and Action Center’s (FRAC) top ten states in serving summer meals to students.
Maine was ranked eighth in the nation serving 21.8 students for every 100 students participating in the school lunch program in 2014. During the summer of 2015, Maine sponsors served almost 700,000 meals, an increase of 15 percent. This increase is the result of improved collaboration with partners throughout Maine including the Maine State Library, Rural Development, Maine State Housing, Maine Recreation and Parks Association, and others to identify locations where meals could be served and increase outreach to families.
Summer meals provide nutritious meals and activities in income eligible areas when school is out for the summer and students no longer have access to breakfast and lunch. Studies have shown a reduced loss of learning over the summer by students who participate in the Summer Food Service Program.
Additionally, Child Nutrition Specialists David Hartley and Stephanie Stambach were recognized at recent conferences. Hartley was recognized for his work in promoting the Community Eligibility Provision in Maine for Maine students. Community Eligibility is a special provision where, under certain requirements, students are provided meals at no cost. Maine has 55 schools in 15 districts utilizing this special provision.
Stambach’s work was recognized for being the third highest response in the country in working with the Farm to School Survey of Maine School Districts. The work shows the growth of Farm to School in Maine compared to all states.