With Maine’s school year officially in full swing, I would like to urge my fellow community members to think about the many Maine students and families who are affected by food insecurity.

I remember my mother sending me to school each week with an empty envelope of “lunch money” so that I didn’t have to worry about why my friends paid for lunch and I didn’t.

My mother was careful not to let my sister and me know how much she was struggling, but not every family has this privilege.

Maine currently has over 50,000 children living in poverty, and 15 percent of Maine families are food insecure.

Many studies show that students who start their day with a healthy breakfast have a significant increase in standardized testing scores.

Not only do these programs help students and families now, they are a significant investment in Maine’s future.

How can our state reach its full potential if our students are not given the resources they need to succeed?

Without having access to quality food from child nutrition programs, I’m not sure I would have been able to go to graduate school and bring my skills back to Maine to help future generations.

Please tell Congress that it is important to invest in our future by providing new funding for child nutrition programs in the upcoming reauthorization this fall.

Carissa Tinker