Kittery School Department hosted a kick-off pizza party this week welcoming children in their community to enjoy free lunch all summer long. At the event they served pizza, watermelon, chocolate hummus with strawberries, snacks, and milk. This event is hosted annually to let the community know about the Summer Food Service Program that provides free lunch to all kids Monday through Friday throughout the summer months, completely free, no questions asked.
Funded by the U. S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the Maine Department of Education in partnership with local sponsors throughout the state, the Summer Food Service Program is an extension of the Federal Child Nutrition program found in schools across the nation which provides free or reduced priced meals to families who qualify. The Kittery School Department is one of 463 sites located in Maine this summer who offer the Summer Food Service Program.
The strong connections between the Kittery School Department and their community allow them to not only host the summer meal program at the Kittery Community Center where kids are in and out all day participating in summer activities through the recreational department, but also provides the kids with other opportunities and activities available through community partnerships. For example, at the event this week, each student received a free backpack with school supplies tucked inside. The backpacks and the supplies are donated with the help of United Way and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Each time kids come back for a meal this summer they will get an additional item for their backpack. Wendy Collins, Kittery School Department School Nutrition Director and the organizer of the Summer Food Service Program, hopes it will help get kids to come back and eat each day and spread the word about this wonderful service to the community.
Also present at the event was the Maine Dairy & Nutrition Council who have helped support the Kittery School Department through grant funding. During the event they helped serve the milk for lunch that day and promoted their Fuel Up to Play 60 initiative. In addition, there were representatives from Let’s Go! promoting their statewide initiative 5-2-1-0 Goes to Child Care to help communities maintain and improve upon their healthy food choices and physical activity opportunities. They provided activities and games for kids to enjoy after lunch, along with the many other fun things available including face painting and a large Thomas & Friends themed bounce house.
The event served 193 kids who all got to enjoy a delicious and nutritious meal provided by a school department and its community who care so very much about the children and families who live in their community.
To find summer meal sites near you, visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks, and type in your address. The map will be populated with the sites nearest to you. You can also text “Summer Meals” to 97779 or call Maine 211.