Celebrating Summer Food Service Programs Providing Free, Healthy Meals for Students Across Maine

(Pictured: part of the lunch spread provided at an MSAD 33 Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) meal site this summer.)

Portland’s Munjoy South playground filled with people as meals were distributed to students through the USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) recently. The Munjoy South playground site, which is one of 12 summer meal sites throughout the city and over 400 across the state, is operated through Portland Public Schools. The site serves 20 to 30 students a day on average and on this particular day, was serving sandwiches, chicken drumsticks, cornbread, fruits, vegetables, milk, and more.

The SFSP is a federally funded and state-administered program that provides free, healthy meals and snacks to children, youth, and adolescents in low-income communities. Local sponsors, like Portland Public Schools, operate the meal program throughout Maine.

At the Munjoy South summer meal site were volunteers from the Maine Celtics and the Locker Project. The Maine Celtics volunteers help run summer day camps Mon-Fri for students and also enjoy playing quick games of soccer and basketball with anyone who wants to join in. Also present was The Locker Project, which helps fight food insecurity in Cumberland County by providing students and families with surplus local produce and other foods, in addition, the Book Fairy Pantry Project was there with a free book stand with ample children’s books for the taking.

On this day, also visiting the meal site were representatives from Maine Equal Justice, Good Shepherd Food Bank, the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council, AmeriCorps VISTA, Preble Street, Full Plates Full Potential, and the offices of Governor Mills, Senator Collins, Senator King, and Representative Pingree. These organizations were brought together by Anna Korsen, Full Plates Full Potential, Policy and Program Coordinator to showcase all that Portland Public Schools (PPS) has done to provide food for local youth and to witness the success and joy of so many community partners coming together to benefit the community.

Maine has good reason to celebrate all that has been accomplished this summer and recently in the way of providing nutritious food to youth both during the summer and the school year.

Maine is one of the first states to provide meals at no charge to public school students during the school year. Starting with the pandemic-related waiver that allotted funds for schools across the United States to provide free meals for students in the 2021/2022 school year, this past year a new Maine-specific law went into effect that provides funds to Maine schools through its annual budget, specifically to provide school meals to all students, regardless of their family’s income. Maine is one of less than 10 states to continue with free meals for all students beyond the pandemic.

Maine is incredibly proud of its many partnerships between both federal and state-level partners, Maine school nutrition programs, and countless community partners across our state who have worked tirelessly to feed Maine’s youth through school-administered programming all year long.

We want to celebrate school nutrition champions like Dawn Hilton the Director of Food Services for PPS and Jim Hanna, Executive Director, Cumberland County Food Security Council for their ongoing work to organize local partners within their community at sites like the Munjoy South playground. In addition to Hilton, there are 106 other districts across Maine with countless school nutrition champions that partner with organizations within their communities to offer summer meal sites at 400 sites throughout Maine.

Special thanks to Kittery School Department, MSAD 33/27, RSU 54, and Belfast Soup Kitchen for providing pictures from some of their summer meal sites this summer:

For Portland’s efforts, Hilton would like to thank her Summer Meal Team for their continued help in fighting food insecurity along with the Maine Celtics, Cumberland County Food Security Council, Full Plates Full Potential, and the Locker Project for their endless support in their work during the summer. It is because of community partnerships like these, that exist in every corner of Maine, Maine DOE can leverage federal programs like Maine’s Summer Food Service Program to direct funding to communities across our state to help fight food insecurity throughout the summer.

To learn more about the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in Maine and how to get involved, visit the Maine Department of Education’s website.

Media Release: Maine DOE Launches ‘Hot Lunch Summer’ to Provide Children With Nutritious Meals Beyond the School Year 

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) announced the return of Hot Lunch Summer, the state’s summer food service program which provides free meals to children beyond the school year. These meals are available at hundreds of sites across Maine and families can locate nearby meal opportunities on the Hot Lunch Summer website HotLunchSummer.com or by texting ‘Summer Meals’ to 914-342-7744.

“Hot Lunch Summer ensures that Maine children can continue to access the healthy and nutritious meals they rely on during the school year,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “No child should worry about going hungry when the school year ends, and we thank the schools and organizations that have stepped up to make the distribution of these meals possible.”

Maine’s Summer Food Service Program is a U.S. Department of Agriculture program offered statewide in areas or at sites where more than 50 percent of the children are eligible for free or reduced meal benefits under the National School Lunch Program or where census track data supports the need. Free meals are provided to children 18 and younger at open meal sites. Eligible sponsoring organizations include schools, nonprofit residential summer camps, government agencies, and tax-exempt organizations including faith-based organizations. This year, rural meal sponsors may offer free meals offsite to further assist in reaching children who are unable to access congregate meal programs.

The Maine DOE launched Hot Lunch Summer last year as a statewide ad campaign to raise awareness of summer meal options and clearly explain the logistics of where, when, and how Maine children and adolescents can access complementary meals. This year, the campaign focuses on reaching households through social media networks and includes an animated video to promote summer meal opportunities which you can view here.

To find nearby summer meal sites, please visit www.HotLunchSummer.com or text “Summer Meals” to 914-342-7744.


In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English.  Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible State or local Agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at: https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/USDA-OASCR%20P-Complaint-Form-0508-0002-508-11-28-17Fax2Mail.pdf, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

(1)       mail:

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or

(2)       fax:

(833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or

(3)       email:

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The Maine Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination because of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, genetic information, religion, ancestry or national origin.

Complaints of discrimination must be filed at the office of the Maine Human Rights Commission, 51 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333-0051. If you wish to file a discrimination complaint electronically, visit the Human Rights Commission website at https://www.maine.gov/mhrc/file/instructions and complete an intake questionnaire. Maine is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Maine DOE Child Nutrition Team Hosts Training Opportunities for Child and Adult Food Program

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) Child Nutrition Team recently hosted two Child and Adult Food Program training opportunities this spring in Augusta and Brewer.

Maine DOE staff members, Alissa Mank, and April Taylor provided CACFP Sponsors with information on program updates as well as hands-on refresher training on enrollments and Income Eligibility forms, meal patterns, identifying whole grain-rich items, ounce equivalents, posted menu requirements, cereal and yogurt sugar limits, and tracking their income and expenses.

To learn more about the Child and Adult Food Program visit this webpage. If you have questions regarding the Child and Adult Care Food Program, please contact a member of the Child Nutrition staff.

Maine DOE Child Nutrition Kicks off 2023 Farm-to-School Cook-off on March 27

(Pictured: Caleb Pratt & Gina Bailey from Team Son-Day- competing in last year’s Westbrook Regional Cook-off)

The Maine Department of Education, Child Nutrition team is kicking off their annual Farm to School Cook-off this month! The cook-off is a statewide culinary competition for teams of school nutrition professionals and students to promote local foods in school meals. This voluntary competition is made available to all school districts in Maine.

This year, two regional competitions will be held:

  • March 27th – Teams representing RSU 54 and RSU 21 will compete.
  • April 5th – Teams representing Lewiston Public Schools and RSU 17 will compete.

Both competitions will take place in the Child Nutrition Culinary Classroom in Augusta. The top team from each regional competition will face off at the final’s competition, also in Augusta, to determine the 2023 Farm to School Cook-off State Champion.

2022 Cook-off Champions- McMahon Tigers: Alain Lemesse & Alicia Smith
2022 Cook-off Champions- McMahon Tigers: Alain Lemesse & Alicia Smith

Each team, consisting of one student and one school nutrition employee, is tasked to prepare a breakfast and lunch meal using specific recipe guidelines and time restrictions and will present to a panel of judges. At least three local ingredients and one USDA food must be used in each meal. Local rolled oats donated by Maine Grains and local carrots donated by Emery Farm will be used as “challenge” ingredients in the competition. All recipes will later be shared in a Maine farm-to-school cookbook to be used in future school meals programs.

For questions about the Farm-to-School Cook-off, contact Maine DOE Child Nutrition Supervisor, Stephanie Stambach at stephanie.stambach@maine.gov. For more information on Maine’s Farm and Sea to School program, visit https://www.maine.gov/doe/farmtoschool.

Nutrition & Economic Disadvantaged Data Collection Webinar

Join the Maine Department of Education (DOE) as we discuss alternative methods for collecting economic disadvantage data for the EPS formula that do not involve free and reduced lunch forms.

The Maine DOE’s Data, Nutrition, and Finance teams will be collaborating to provide guidance about Special Provision II procedures and how to collect data to inform the EPS School Funding formula to mark economically disadvantaged students. Special Provision II schools and Community Eligibility Provisions (CEP) require that free and reduced lunch form are not sent out to families, however those forms are used to inform the EPS School funding formula.

Are you a Special Provision School? What does that mean for Child Nutrition and for EPS School Funding? Join Jane McLucas from Child Nutrition, Paula Gravelle from School Finance, and a member from the Data Team as they talk about what changes will be coming, and best practices to have in place to be ready for next year!

Monday, March 20th @ 1:30pm – Register Here
(this webinar will be recorded)

For questions about this webinar or collection of economic disadvantaged data please contact our data quality trainer by email Alexandra.Cookson@maine.gov or call 207-446-3897.