The Maine Department of Education oversees several United States Department Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services programs and initiatives that provide healthy food to children. Each of these programs helps fight hunger and obesity. Each year, Maine receives over $45 million from the USDA for these programs. In a report filed in 2016 by the Maine Task Force to End Child Hunger, it was estimated that at 100% participation in the USDA child nutrition programs Maine schools would receive an additional $50 million dollars to feed food insecure kids in Maine.
It’s understood that child hunger exists in every town in Maine. 47.6% of all public-school students are enrolled in the USDA Child Nutrition programs that provide either free or reduced-priced meals each school day and over the summer. A benefit that is based on the child’s household income.
Schools are uniquely positioned to deliver the nutritious meals our kids need to thrive. “The health and well-being of our nation is dependent on the health of our children, and no child should ever have to go hungry,” said Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary. “the USDA works to provide low-income kids nutritious meals during the school year and in the summer so they can learn, grow, and reach their full potential. We know that our strength comes from our partnerships, and it will take everyone—government agencies, educators, elected officials, corporations, advocates and community leaders—to ensure that our children have a healthy start in life.”