BATH — With schools closed for weeks due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, many students who rely on schools for their breakfast and lunch every day are looking elsewhere for meals, so Regional School Unit 1 and a local nonprofit are stepping up to fill the need.

RSU 1 is providing three free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to any child that needs it, not just those who attend RSU 1 schools and recieve free or reduced price meals regularly. The meals include cold food, such as sandwiches, cereal with milk, fruits and vegetables.

The food can be picked up Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Dike Newell School, Fisher Mitchell School, Woolwich Central School and Phippsburg Elementary school.

Tim Harkins, food service director for RSU 1, said the district served 120 meals on Tuesday, but that number jumped to 330 meals on Wednesday. When school is in session, the district serves a total of 400 breakfasts and 950 lunches each day.

“My role is to provide food for kids in the district,” said Harkins. “Just because school is shut down doesn’t mean I stop doing my job. It’s the right thing to do, and I think I’d be remiss if I stopped.”

According to a 2017 report from the Good Shepherd Food Bank and Preble Street, the Portland homeless shelter and food program, 13.4 percent of people in Sagadahoc County are food insecure.

In Maine, roughly 47,000 children, one in five, struggle with hunger, according to Feeding America, a nonprofit organization aimed at ending food insecurity in the United States. In Bath alone, there were just under 1,600 childen age 18 and under living below the poverty line in 2014, according to the U.S. Census.

When Jamie Dorr, executive director of the Midcoast Community Alliance in Bath, had to close the Bath Area Meetinghouse and Skatepark in response to the coronavirus outbreak, she said her first thought was the students who regularly get meals and snacks at the youth center.

“That was our biggest concern,” said Dorr. “Students are used to having dinner with us three days per week.”

She estimated the nonprofit serves snacks, provided by the Bath Area Backpack Program, to 70 students daily, and 30 students recieve hot meals and food to bring home.

Dorr runs a meal train program where volunteers sign up to make hot dinners for students who wouldn’t otherwise get it, but that program had to be suspended when the youth center closed. However, that didn’t stop volunteers from donating food.

“Mae’s Cafe and Bakery delivered fresh food and vegetables and Centre Street Bakery donated bread,” said Dorr. “The local girl scouts even donated cookies … I’m so heartwarmed by everyone’s support and thoughtfulness.”

Dorr will distribute donated food, school supplies and toiletries outside the skatepark on Friday from 4-5 p.m. She said she hopes to provide more

“I hope it helps eliminate worry and stress for families, students and kids who are sometimes fending for themselves,” said Dorr. “Some parents are losing income, so this can be incredibly stressful, but people aren’t alone in this.”

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