FOOD INSECURITY means missing meals because there’s little or no food in the house.
Maine is by far the most "food insecure" state in New England, and 12th in the nation.
In some of our schools it’s nearly all students. At South Elementary School (kindergarten through 4th grade) last year, because 90% qualified, all children received free breakfasts and lunches.
The federal school lunch and breakfast program feeds these kids on school days, but that stops on weekends. Teachers and school nurses see the difference on Mondays: hungry bodies don’t develop as they should and are frequently sick. Hungry children cannot concentrate in school and are more frequently absent. Hunger is often invisible -- or looks like lethargy, inattention, or disruptive behavior.
Hunger creates stress for the entire family. When we feed a child, we're also helping the adults who love the child. We’re giving the whole family assurance that their community cares about them and will give them a hand up when they need one.
If the cycle of poverty is to be broken, cherishing the children must be the place to start. These small ones need to feel safe and valued, if they are to learn and dream and grow up strong.
Resources about hunger