To the Editor:
The recent Islander editorial “No child left hungry” lauded Maine for its inclusion of expanded funding for school meals in Maine’s updated budget bill. I’d like to add my voice in thanking Governor Mills, Senate President Jackson and House Speaker Fecteau and our friends at Full Plates Full Potential and the many other tireless advocates in the state for their work to provide school meals at no cost to all Maine students, ensuring children across the state get the nutrition they need.
This legislation will expand school meal participation, and help kids learn, grow and thrive. It’s a fact: Research shows that schools often serve more nutritiously balanced meals than many kids get at home. Kids eat on a regular schedule, and they eat with their friends and adults, like teachers. This promotes healthy eating and gives many kids a sense of community and stability. In short, when kids get the food they need AND they know that food will be there today and tomorrow, it both nourishes their bodies and helps relieve food-related stress.
This helps kids focus on the classroom and on just being kids. And that helps schools focus on building community and accelerating learning.
Over the past year, thanks to nationwide childhood nutrition waivers, all kids have been able to access meals for free. Those waivers, however, end in 2022. This legislation will allow Maine to continue serving no-cost meals and move on from pre-pandemic policies.
Just like textbooks and pencils, food is an essential school supply. This legislation is a huge step in the right direction. As a homeowner in Southwest Harbor, I am proud our state is in the forefront of making sure our children have the nutrition they need to achieve their potential.
President/CEO, Share Our Strength