TOPSHAM — The sun was bright outside Mt. Ararat Middle School June 26, with music playing and children enjoying healthy snacks and fun games.
The perfect setting for the start of the region’s summer food service program.
The Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program provides youths with meals during the summer that they would normally receive in school one or two times a day. The nutrition program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is open to all children between the ages of 2 and 18.
Along with healthy food, the youths can make drawings about nutrition, read, work in coloring books, and play outdoor games, all supervised by adults.
Several people of all ages, and from different groups, gathered at Mt. Ararat Middle School, one of MCHPP’s new sites, for last week’s event. Access Health, 4H summer camps and Tri-County Literacy were represented, along with Maine Snap-Ed, a USDA-funded program offering classes on cooking, shopping and eating healthier, while saving money.
Bridget Horan of AmeriCorps VISTA, who works with MCHPP, noted that the chicken salad wasn’t a big hit among the youths. Thankfully, frozen yogurt was waiting in the wings.
“We are so happy to be able to help support this program in any way we can,” Mt. Ararat Middle School Principal Bill Zima said. “Eating is obviously critical to everything that we do, so we are so happy to be a part of it, and share our school.”
Brunswick Town Councilor Steve Walker said the panel was concerned to hear from Ethan Minton, MCHPP’s program director, that one in four children in Brunswick are nutrition-challenged. While Brunswick used to provide funding to nonprofit service organizations, budget challenges stopped that, Walker said.
But this year, a portion of the budget is going to MCHPP, he said, noting that “it should be a priority for our town.”
MCHPP has 12 summer food service program sites. “Open” sites, meaning anyone between 2 and 18 can visit and receive a free meal, without any questions asked, include:
MCHPP, 84A Union St., Brunswick, Monday-Friday through Aug. 21, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Perryman Village, 1 Perryman Drive, Brunswick, Monday-Friday through Aug. 21, noon-1 p.m.
86 Cedar Grove Road, Dresden, Monday-Wednesday through July 15, breakfast 9-10 a.m.
Faith United Methodist Church, 1746 Harpswell Island Road, Harpswell, Monday-Friday through Aug. 21, noon-1 p.m.
Harpswell Community School, 308 Harpswell Islands Road, Harpswell, Monday-Friday through July 3, noon- 1 p.m.
Lisbon Community School, 33 Mill St., Lisbon, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday through Aug. 14, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
MTM Community Center, 18 School Street, Lisbon, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday through Aug. 14, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Marcia Buker School, 28 High Street, Lisbon, Tuesday-Thursday through July 30, noon- 1 p.m.
Mt. Ararat Middle School, 66 Republic Ave., Topsham, Monday-Friday through Aug. 21; breakfast from 9-10 a.m. and lunch from 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, include:
Family Focus/Hawthorne School, 46 Federal St., Brunswick, Monday-Friday through Aug. 21, noon-1 p.m.
Harriet Beecher Stowe/Summer Rec Program, 44 McKeen St., Brunswick, Monday-Friday through Aug. 13, noon-1 p.m.
Harpswell Coastal Academy, 9 Ash Point Road, Harpswell, session 1 Monday-Thursday through July 16, session 2 Monday-Thursday from July 20 to Aug. 6
Contact Savannah MacLean at firstname.lastname@example.org or 725-2716 for more information.
Regional School Unit 1 is also taking part in the summer feeding program. It will provide breakfast at the Dike Newell School, 3 Wright Drive in Bath, Mondays through Thursday from July 6-30, 8 to 8:15 a.m.
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 at Mt. Ararat Middle School June 26. Maine Snap-Ed is a USDA-funded program that offers classes on cooking, shopping and eating healthier, while saving money.