Nearly $375K Awarded to Maine Summer Meals Programs
July 6, 2022
Full Plates Full Potential awarded $374,488 in funding through its 2022 Summer Meals Grant program to 53 school districts and community organizations across Maine. Since Summer 2020, the organization has granted out over $1.2M cumulatively in Summer Meals Grants to meet the needs of program operators to provide nutritious meals to children.
Support from the Summer Meals Grant program has proven to be crucial to service providers dedicated to feeding as many kids as possible. Approximately half of Full Plates’ grant recipients requested funding to support costs of providing meals in areas of the state normally ineligible for federal support, and through delivery and grab and go meal service models.
“Without the help of Full Plates Full Potential this summer, the children at H. B. Emery Jr. Memorial School would not have had access to nutritious meals while school is out,” said Dottie Janotta, MSAD 6 School Nutrition Director. “The grant that we received from Full Plates Full Potential will allow us to provide healthy meals for the children attending the summer program at H. B. Emery Jr. Hunger does not take a summer break and we are so fortunate to have such a wonderful partner who advocates endlessly for ending child hunger in Maine!”
Grant funds will support everything from increased costs of goods and labor due to inflation, equipment to set up new meal sites, to packaging and delivery of meals to children residing in areas that are not historically eligible for the Summer Food Service Program without the Covid era child nutrition waivers.
“Free summer meals should be available to any child who needs them and shouldn’t be dependent on a family’s zip code or their ability to eat meals at a specific location,” said Justin Strasburger, Executive Director of Full Plates Full Potential. “We are thrilled to see Congress take action to temporarily extend the critical child nutrition waivers this summer, and will continue to advocate for legislation that would make summer meal program flexibilities permanent. But until then, we are dedicated to supporting the many organizations going above and beyond to ensure that meals get out to as many Maine kids as possible.”
Summer food service programs have long been integral in addressing child food insecurity in Maine for the tens of thousands of children who rely on school meals during the academic year. Summertime, when children are out of school, is one of the most vulnerable times for children experiencing hunger. This is why summer food programs are so important, and have proven to be even more effective during the federal emergency measures granted to the program during the pandemic, where waivers have expanded access to meals in Summers 2020, 2021, and 2022.
For the second straight year Full Plates was able to fund all eligible grant applicants, thanks, in part, to a commitment from former Democratic candidate for US Senate, Sara Gideon, who pledged to fill the funding gap and donated $110,000 of leftover campaign funds. “Whether it is the school year or the summer, every Maine kid deserves consistent access to healthy, nutritious food,” said Gideon. “While school might be over for the year, the struggles of families facing food insecurity are not. This gift will provide immediate support for school nutrition programs across the state and help more of our kids have the nutrition they need to grow, learn and succeed.”
Additional generous support for Full Plates’ Summer Meals Grant program was provided by Central Maine Power, Horizon Foundation, WEX, Longroad Energy, Summit Utilities, and Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger.