As we work to build food security with students and families, Portland Public Schools and the Cumberland County Food Security Council are grateful for the May 23 editorial, “Our View: Don’t look the other way on student hunger.” It shines a light on the importance of sound policies to reduce food insecurity among our youths and families.

We appreciate any donor who invests in students, but we share your perspective that student nutrition should not be dependent on individual largesse.

Last summer, Portland Public Schools and the Food Security Council launched the Portland Public Schools Food Security Task Force. This coalition of organizations believes that food fuels learning and all students have the right to nutritious food that allows them to attain their full potential.

We recognize that Portland Public Schools needs to do more to utilize opportunities to feed students through federal nutrition programs and food security-focused community organizations. Beyond the under-participation of students in the breakfast and lunch programs mentioned in your editorial, Portland currently serves only about 20 percent of students eligible for the summer meals program.

We are making strides to improve this. Among other things, Portland Public Schools will pilot a program to provide better nutrition to students in after-school settings. Also, food pantries and other partnerships can help improve food access for students on long breaks and weekends.

The Food Security Task Force has mapped out which schools have those programs, and which schools should add them. This comprehensive assessment will be available late this summer. It will include recommendations for sustainable solutions to student hunger and provide opportunities for anyone in the community who wants to join us in ensuring all Portland students have adequate, nutritious food to fuel our shared future.

We look forward to continuing this conversation with the community and appreciate the Press Herald’s continuing attention to this topic.

Jim Hanna

executive director, Cumberland County Food Security Council

Xavier Botana

superintendent, Portland Public Schools

Portland