Midcoast families who rely on free or reduced-price school lunch programs can rest easy knowing the Maine Department of Education has teamed up with the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program to provide free meals to children 18 and under until Aug. 25.

Through Hot Lunch Summer, kids will receive a bagged breakfast or lunch and a carton of milk at Curtis Memorial Library, Bay Bridge Estates and Perryman Village. For other Maine locations, dates and times, parents can visit maine.gov/doe/hotlunchsummer.

Summer food programs are vital in providing nutrition for children when other options aren’t available, said Hannah Chatalbash, Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program deputy director. She said families participating in free school lunch programs could otherwise spend an additional $300 a month on groceries during the summer.

“The summer food service program helps alleviate some of that financial burden and the stress it causes, allowing kids and families to enjoy their summer vacations,” Chatalbash said.

MHPP has been offering free summer meals since 2009, but Chatalbash said teaming up with the Maine Department of Education has opened up federal funding. She said they served over 27,000 meals last year.

“While the number of children varies daily, we anticipate serving over 830 kids this year,” she said. “Some of those kids will receive meals only for a few days while they attend a specific camp or visit a particular meal site, and some will access free meals for the whole summer.”


Summer lunch programs in Bath

Ten minutes north of Brunswick, free lunch programs are available at the Bath Area YMCA until Aug. 25 and the Bath Area Food Bank until Aug. 31.

The YMCA offers a free, bagged breakfast and lunch to children and their caregivers Monday through Friday at 303 Centre St. or from their mobile Veggie Van that makes several stops through town.

The food bank will provide free, bagged breakfast and lunch for children and students, including hot meals on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, at 807 Middle St.

Ending hunger in Maine

Food insecurity is an ongoing issue across the state of Maine, with one in four children at risk of hunger and 37% unable to qualify for public assistance, according to the Maine Department of Education.

Midcoast counties Sagadahoc, Waldo and Lincoln reported one in four children as food insecure, and both Cumberland and Knox counties reported one in five, according to Good Shepherd Food Bank.

As part of Maine’s plan to end hunger by 2030, the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program will host an event with a panel of five food insecurity specialists at Martin’s Point Health Care Center in Brunswick at 5:30 p.m. on July 13.

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