ROCKLAND, Maine — More than three out of every five Rockland students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches but community leaders realize that these children are served only when school is in session.
Those leaders have worked together to offer a free summer lunch program for Rockland children.
“At least they can have one healthy meal a day,” said Audrey Lovering, Rockland Community Development director.
Lovering will ask the Rockland City Council on Monday night to offer its support for the program.
The summer lunch program is being sponsored by Regional School Unit 13 and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The lunches will be served from 11 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday at Rockland District Middle School on Broadway beginning Monday, June 18, and continuing through Friday, Aug. 10.
Lovering said it was frightening to find out that 61 percent of Rockland students qualify for free school lunch or reduced-price lunch. She said this is a short-term way to address the problem but that the community needs to explore why there are so many families with this low an income.
The community development director said that addressing such issues is a community development function.
“A healthy community is also important to economic development and makes it more sustainable,” she said.
She acknowledged that producing jobs would be the best way to deal with these community issues.
Meals offered at the middle school must be eaten there or taken along on an approved field trip. Children younger than 10 must be accompanied by an adult unless they are enrolled in a field trip activity.
The Rockland Recreation Center, which offers summer field trips, is one of the participating community partners of the program as are Coach Moore’s Future Football Camp, The Salvation Army, Youthlinks and Station Maine. Others who have assisted in organizing the program are the Knox County Community Health Coalition, Healthy Maine Partnership, Rockland Kiwanis, Picker Family Resource Center and Penquis.