WARREN, Maine — Many children in the midcoast get two meals a day from their schools through the free and reduced lunch program. When the summer comes and backpacks get shoved in the closet until September, that security of having regular meals vanishes. A program in Warren, Damariscotta and Waldoboro will provide meals to any child who wants one throughout the summer.
“Many kids get two meals a day at school. During the summer that’s a huge gap. Families struggle to stretch their budgets. The kids who are at risk of malnutrition come to school disadvantaged. It makes it harder for them to concentrate and retain information they’ve learned,” said Anni Pat McKenney, project coordinator for Healthy Lincoln County.
From September through June, the Miller School in Waldoboro serves about 70 percent of its students free and reduced-price breakfast and lunches.
The school also has a program that gives students free fresh fruits and vegetables that they can take home.
“In the summer many of them go hungry. This will be a great program for them,” said Julia Levensaler, Miller School principal.
Children don’t need to prove that they are low-income to get a meal.
Anyone under 18 who shows up will be fed, McKenney said. They also will be encouraged to play on the playgrounds and socialize.
Unlike at a food pantry, children are expected to sit at the pickup site and eat the meal there before playing with other children. Kids who participate will be entered in free raffles with sports-related prizes such as whiffle balls and bats.
“It’s not just about feeding kids — it’s about socialization and community building,” McKenney said.
The program is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Meals will be served:
Warren — Warren School, 7:30-8:30 a.m. breakfast, noon-1 p.m. lunch, weekdays June 18-Aug. 17.
Damariscotta — YMCA, 7:30-8:30 a.m. breakfast, weekdays June 25-Aug. 17.
Waldoboro — Miller School, 8:45-9:15 a.m. breakfast, 11-11:45 a.m. lunch, weekdays June 18-Aug. 17.
For information, call 563-6123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.