In this August 2020 file photo, Sandra Hodgins, food services director for the Brewer School Department, discusses how meals will be handled when schools open. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

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For students in Maine, the school year is in full swing. As parents, teachers and other school staff navigate another uncertain school year, there’s one thing we know for sure: kids learn better when they’re well-nourished. And school meal programs help kids get the nourishment they need. 

Right now, one in five kids across our state could be struggling with hunger. Thanks to waiver flexibilities provided by the USDA, school meals are free for all kids this year. And thanks to new legislation passed by our legislature, school meals will continue to be free for all kids in the coming school years.

Yet, as the pandemic continues, school nutrition professionals are facing an immense set of challenges, including supply chain disruptions and labor shortages. Despite these obstacles, school nutrition workers continue to collaborate with principals, teachers and other school staff to get kids the food they need, providing critical support in this ever-changing school year. 

This School Meals Celebration Week, we recognize leaders who are behind the scenes, making decisions to help staff and students stay safe, healthy and nourished. They help guarantee kids are healthy and ready to learn. Feeding kids today is one of the smartest investments we can make to ensure they’re ready to face the challenges of tomorrow. Join me, Full Plates Full Potential, and partners across the state in celebrating and thanking the everyday heroes that make sure our kids have the food they need to grow up strong. 

Kristen Dunphey

No Kid Hungry Maine

Portland

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