Full Plates Full Potential, the Maine nonprofit whose mission is to end child hunger statewide, announces its first-ever School Meals Celebration Week. “In a year of much progress and increased need for school meals, it’s more important than ever to shine a light on just how critical these meals are to Maine’s food system,” said the organization’s Executive Director Justin Strasburger. “School meals are a crucial part of the food security equation for Maine kids and families. Celebrating the many Mainers who bring these meals to our students every day is the right thing to do and we’ll have some fun doing it.”

The week’s activities begin on Tuesday, Oct. 12 after Maine’s recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and include daily themes and engagement opportunities:

Tuesday, Oct. 12 – Let’s Go Viral

Kick off School Meals Celebration Week by joining in the #SchoolMealsMatterToME campaign. Post a photo of yourself and/or someone you love holding a predesigned sign to let your network know that you value school meals. Use the School Meals Celebration Toolkit to download a #SchoolMealsMatterToME sign and see suggested social media posts.

Wednesday, Oct. 13 – Show ’Em Some Love

Full Plates invites all Mainers to share a message of appreciation to the child hunger heroes who make school meals possible. School food professionals have always gone above and beyond to serve nutritious meals to children, and they have continued to keep Maine kids well-fed and ready to learn amidst an ever-changing pandemic. Through an online submission form, Full Plates will collect these notes of gratitude and share them with school nutrition staff across the state.

Thursday, Oct. 14  – Lean Into Local

School meals are an integral part of Maine’s local food systems and, more and more, the foods being served to students across the state are being sourced locally. Take a short quiz to learn about how the local foods making their way to school lunch trays are nutritious, environmentally-friendly, and support our local economy. Smart, and healthy!

Friday, Oct. 15 – Join Full Plates Live

To wrap up the week, Full Plates will be hosting a virtual panel discussion featuring local experts in the field of childhood food security. Panelists include Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank; Craig Larrabee, president & CEO of JMG; and Dr. Becca Boulos, executive director of Maine Public Health Association. Tune in for a discussion about why school meals matter to Maine, what’s next now that Maine has passed groundbreaking School Meals for All legislation, and the work yet to do to ensure that no Maine child grows up hungry.

To learn more about the week’s events, download materials to join the celebration, and register for Friday’s virtual panel discussion, visit fullplates.org/schoolmealscelebrationweek.

Full Plates Full Potential is on a mission to end childhood food insecurity in Maine by maximizing participation in USDA child nutrition programs. Full Plates, a statewide non-profit, provides technical and financial assistance to schools and community organizations to help feed kids now, while advocating for systemic changes necessary to ensure that all Maine’s kids have consistent access to nutritious meals. For more information, visit www.fullplates.org.