February 7

Letter to the editor: Free summer meals vital to needy Maine kids

The National School Lunch Program provides healthy, low-cost or free lunches to children each day.

When I was a kid, I relied on this program. It guaranteed me – regardless of my parents’ ability – one good meal each school day.

Unfortunately, in my family, getting breakfast and dinner was hit or miss. As the month went by, it would be more of a miss, so this one meal was important to me.

I’m not sure I realized how important it was until the summer after fifth grade, when I came home from a hard day at play. With all the respect and consideration of a young boy, I entered the house and announced my hunger to my mother.

Usually this would result in her handing me a peanut butter sandwich, a box of macaroni and cheese – “You know how to make it,” she’d say – or, if it was later in the month, a pack of saltine crackers.

This particular day, my mother didn’t even need to look in the kitchen – she knew there was no food. She just cried.

What I began to realize that day is how much my mother was struggling to keep my two brothers and me fed. During the school year, it was already difficult. When summer came, that meant three more meals daily – one for each of us kids – and she didn’t know where they would come from.

Today, nearly half the children in Maine face a similar reality.

Maine’s Legislature recently voted to expand a program, using available federal funds, to provide free meals to kids throughout summer. Gov. Le-Page understands childhood hunger directly, too, so I attribute his veto of L.D. 1353 to his misunderstanding the program and its funding source.

The Legislature should correct this mistake by overturning the veto. No kid deserves to go hungry.

Tim Fuller

Portland

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