Free summer food programs open for Mid-Coast students
BATH — With schools closed for the summer, so are low-cost food programs they provide for students in need.
But various sites around the Mid-Coast are extending such initiatives throughout the summer to help ensure area youths don't go hungry.
Free summer meals will be offered, in conjunction with the Bath Area Food Bank, at both the Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark and the Bath Area Family YMCA from June 23 to Aug. 9.
The Park will serve meals Tuesdays through Saturdays, with snacks from 2-5 p.m. and dinner from 5-7 p.m. Tacos are on the menu on Tuesday, pizza stuffers on Wednesday, "crockpot classics" like chili, spaghetti and pulled pork on Thursday, chef's choice on Friday and Italian sandwiches on Saturday.
The program is offered, no questions asked, to children aged 2-18. Contact the Bath Parks and Recreation Department at 443-8360 for more information.
Kimberly Gates, public relations director at the Bath Area Food Bank and administrator of the Bath Area Mobile Food Truck – said in an email last week that about half of Bath students qualify for free and reduced lunch.
"(T)hese same children will not have an opportunity to eat at their school," she said. "With the Summer Feed program, they will have several meals and snacks available to them 6 days a week. ... No child should go hungry over school vacation."
Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program is also taking part in a summer food service program, at both open and enrolled sites.
Open sites, available Mondays-Fridays to all children without registration or questioning, are at the Perryman Village community center, on Perryman Drive at Cooks Corner in Brunswick, from noon-1 p.m.; the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, 84A Union St. in Brunswick, from 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m., and at the United Baptist Church, 1 Elm St. in Topsham, from noon-1 p.m.
A kickoff event for the program will be held at Perryman Village on Monday, June 30, from noon-1:30 p.m. at Perryman Village in Cook's Corner. Lunch will be offered to the children, and there will also be music, and tables of information from many of program sponsors who will be conducting activities with youths at various sites during the summer.
Enrolled sites offer free food to all eligible children. That includes youths who live in houses that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, or benefits through the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.
Such meals will be offered through recreation departments at both Lisbon Elementary School in Lisbon and at the MTM Community Center in Lisbon Falls on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Meals will also be offered from noon-1 p.m., Monday-Friday, through the Family Focus Program at Hawthorne School in Brunswick; through the Brunswick Recreation Department at Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School, Monday-Friday; and at Marcia Buker School, through the Richmond Recreation Department, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Of those students who receive free and reduced lunches through the school year, only a small percentage participate in the summer programs, according to Christine Renaud, summer food service program director with Mid Coast Hunger Prevention.
"A lot of people don't really know about the program," she said. "We definitely try to be that supplement for the (school year program), and provide some activities to help (students) maintain the things that they learned, and be prepared for the next school year."