BRUNSWICK — School is out, but food assistance programs for youth in need are going strong over the summer.
The Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, the Bath Area Family YMCA, and Regional School Unit 1 are among organizations offering no-fee food services to help meet the nutritional needs of local children.
Maine is the third hungriest state in the country, and one out of four children in this state are food insecure, MCHPP reported in a June 16 press release.
“A lot of us in our day-to-day lives look around and we don’t see the evidence of it, but it is well documented,” Ethan Minton, MCHPP’s program director, said in a recent interview, calling the percentage of hungry children “startling.”
Hunger is present in every community, he said, even the most affluent ones, noting the well-used food bank in Cumberland.
“You’ll find it from one end of the state to the other, and in every town and city,” Minton said.
The summer program in RSU 1 offers breakfast to all children between the ages of 2 and 18. Meals will be available at the Dike Newell School, 3 Wright Drive, starting Tuesday, July 5, and continuing Mondays through Thursdays until July 28, from 8-8:30 a.m.
The Bath YMCA is also providing meals to children 2-18, both at its 303 Centre St. headquarters and in the Maritime Apartments community room, 12 Windjammer Way, Bath. The service, running Monday-Friday through Aug. 26, includes breakfast from 8-9 a.m. and lunch from noon- 1 p.m.
MCHPP provides meals during the summer that youths would normally receive in school one or two times a day. Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the nutrition program is open to all children 18 and younger. Last year it served more than 8,500 meals, MCHPP reported.
Although the program is funded by the USDA, “we’re responsible for managing the program, and we’re really dependant on volunteers,” Minton said.
Volunteers who want to lend a hand can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
MCHPP’s program – already offered at sites in Topsham, Brunswick, Harpswell, Lisbon and Richmond – has this year added Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick.
“The more you can be in a location where kids and their families typically congregate, the more successful we think a site can be,” Minton said, noting the importance of offering fun activities – arts, crafts and games, all supervised by adults – alongside meals at the different locations.
MCHPP has 10 summer food service program sites. “Open” sites, meaning anyone 18 and younger can visit and receive a free meal, without any questions asked, are:
• Curtis Memorial Library, 23 Pleasant St., Brunswick, Monday-Friday June 21-Aug. 26, noon-1 p.m.
• Perryman Village, 1 Perryman Drive, Brunswick, Monday-Friday through Aug. 26, noon-1 p.m.
• Mt. Ararat Middle School, 66 Republic Ave., Topsham, Monday-Friday through Aug. 26, 9-10 a.m. and noon-1 p.m.
• Harpswell Community School, 308 Harpswell Islands Road, Harpswell, Monday-Thursday through July 1, noon-1 p.m.
• MTM Community Center, 18 School St., Lisbon, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday June 27-Aug. 12, noon-1 p.m.
• Marcia Buker Elementary School, 28 High St., Lisbon, Tuesday-Thursday June 28-July 28, noon-1 p.m.
• Lisbon Community School, 33 Mill St., Monday, Tuesday and Thursday June 27-Aug. 12, noon-1 p.m.
“Enrolled” sites, available to youths who have registered for a summer camp and are eligible for free or reduced lunch throughout the school year, are:
• Family Focus/Hawthorne School, 46 Federal St., Brunswick, Monday-Friday through Aug. 26, noon-1 p.m.
• Harriet Beecher Stowe/Summer Rec Program, 44 McKeen St., Brunswick, Monday-Friday through Aug. 11, noon-1 p.m.
• Achieve School, 16 Burbank St., Brunswick, session 1 Monday-Friday from June 27-Aug. 19, 11 a.m.-noon.
Tasha Gerken, a nutrition educator with the Maine Snap-Ed program, high-fives two girls during a game at the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program’s summer food service kick-off last year at Mt. Ararat Middle School in Topsham. Maine Snap-Ed is a USDA-funded program that offers classes on cooking, shopping and eating healthier, while saving money.