Free summer lunch programs for children are set to start next week. FILE PHOTO

YORK COUNTY — Through summer meal programs in Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Biddeford, Waterboro and Sanford, all children can get a free, healthy lunch or breakfast.

Children are often excited to for the school year to end and summer break to begin, however for those who rely on school meals, it can be a difficult time, said Regional School Unit 23 Food and Nutrition Services Director Caroline Trinder.

“The 10 to 12 weeks of summer can be really challenging for families,” she said.

Tinder said school departments need to assure that students in need have access to meals not just during the school year, but during the summer as well.

RSU 23 is participating in the Summer Food Service Program, also known as the Summer Meals Program. The program, which is implemented through the USDA and administered on the state level, provides free breakfast and lunch to children.

A state law that went into effect in 2015 requires any district with at least one school with 50 percent or more children eligible for free or reduced meals that provides any kind of summer programming must participate in the summer meals program, according to information from the Maine Department of Education.

In RSU 23, which oversees education in Old Orchard Beach, more than 50 percent of the students in two of the three schools are eligible for free or reduced lunch. In Biddeford, three of five schools, and in Sanford three of six schools, have 50 percent or more students who qualify for free or reduced lunch. In Regional School Unit 57, which covers the towns of Alfred, Limerick, Lyman, Newfield, Shapleigh and Waterboro, two of the seven schools have 50 percent or more students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.

RSU 23 will provide free lunch and breakfast programs in Old Orchard Beach and Saco this summer. Tinder said RSU 23 has received assistance from Meals on Wheels volunteers to transport meals from Old Orchard Beach to Saco and from the nonprofit Full Plates Full Potential which funded coolers to store the food that goes to Saco.

Meals served will meet federal nutrition guidelines and will be free to anyone 18 or younger.

“No questions asked. They just literally have to show up to the site,” said Tinder.

In 2018, the USDA Summer Food Service Program provided more than 1.5 million meals and snacks to children during the summer when school was not in session.

USDA reports an average of only 14 percent of families take advantage of the summer meal program due to insufficient awareness of the programs.

Sanford school officials say that last year the city’s summer food service program served more than 10,000 breakfasts and 20,000 lunches at six sites. The school department is hoping to reach more children this year and has added a seventh location at Notre Dame Church on Payne Street in Springvale.

In addition to free lunches for children, Biddeford will serve meals to adults for $3.

“We encourage youth, families, seniors and the community-at-large to visit a site and enjoy a well-balanced, healthy meal,” said Biddeford School Department’s Nutrition Director Sandy Lewis.

Adults can purchase lunch for $5 and breakfast for $3 at the Massabesic Middle School meal site in Waterboro.

In Biddeford, meals will be available from June 24 to Aug. 16 at the following locations and times Monday through Friday:

• John F. Kennedy Kindergarten Center: 64 West St., Biddeford, Breakfast 8 to 8:30 a.m. and Lunch 11:30 a.m. to noon.

• Biddeford Middle School: 25 Tiger Way, Biddeford, Breakfast 8 to 8:30 a.m. and Lunch 11 a.m. to noon.

• McArthur Public Library: 270 Main St., Biddeford, Lunch only 11:30 a.m. to noon.

• Community Bicycle Center: 45 Granite St. Biddeford, Lunch only, 12:15 to 12:45 p.m.

In Old Orchard Beach, meals will be available from June 24 to Aug. 16, with no service on July 4 and 5, at the following locations and times:

• Loranger Memorial School: Breakfast 7:45 to 8:45 a.m. and  Lunch 11:30 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday

• Libby Library: Lunch only 11:30 a.m. to noon, Tuesday through Friday

In Saco, meals will be available from June 24 to Aug.16 at the following location and times:

• The Ledges Housing Complex: Breakfast 8 to 8:30 a.m. and Lunch noon to 12:30 pm, Monday through Friday

In Saco, meals will be available from July 8 to Aug. 9  at the following locations:

• CK Burns School: Monday Breakfast 8:30 to 8:50 a.m. and Lunch 11 to 11:25 a.m., Monday through Friday

• Young School: Monday: Breakfast 8:30 to 8:50 a.m. and Lunch 11 to 11:25 am

• Fairfield School : Breakfast 8:30 to 8:50 a.m. and Lunch: 11 to 11:25 am., Tuesday through Thursday

In Sanford, meals will be available from June 24 to August 9 at the following locations and times:

• Carl Lamb School: Breakfast 7:45 to 8:15 a.m. and Lunch 11 a.m. to noon

• Carpentier Park: Lunch only 11:30 a.m. to noon

• Curtis Lake Church: Breakfast 7:45 to 8:15 a.m. and Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

• Memorial Gym: Breakfast 7:45 to 8:15 a.m. and Lunch 11 a.m. to noon

• Notre Dame Church: Breakfast 7:45 to 8:15 a.m. and Lunch 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

• Springvale Playground: Lunch only 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

• YMCA : Breakfast 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and Lunch 11 a.m. to noon

In RSUn57,  meals will be available June 24 to April 9 at the following location and times:

• Massabesic Middle School, Waterboro: Breakfast 8 to 9 a.m. and Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be reached at 780-9015 or by email at [email protected].

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