After-school meals may be added to Rockland district's menu

By Stephen Betts | Nov 10, 2019
Photo by: Stephen Betts RSU 13 may soon offer evening meals to students.

Rockland — The Rockland area schools may soon offer meals to students and their parents after classes end for the day.

There are many details to work out but Regional School Unit 13 Business Manager Peter Orne told board members at their Nov. 7 meeting that a new state law calls for districts -- that have any school with 50 percent or more of their students receiving free or reduced lunches -- to offer dinners to all students and their parents.

Food insecurity is high in the region. The web site Feeding America finds that 18.5 percent of children in Knox County have food insecurity at home.

The most recent annual report by the Area Interfaith Outreach point out that most of the people they serve at the food pantry in Rockland area working people who are trying to make financial ends meet.

In RSU 13, 64 percent of students at both the South School in Rockland and Thomaston Grammar School receive free or reduced lunches. In Cushing, 65 percent of students qualify for the free or reduced lunches. If a student qualifies for lunches, they also are offered free breakfasts.

Districts that offer the evening meals will be reimbursed by the federal government at the same level as they are for breakfasts and lunches, Orne said. The business manager said while the reimbursement subsidizes the expenses, on average the subsidies fall short by about $1 to $1.50 per meal.

RSU 13 operates an after-school academic enrichment program, paid for largely through a federal grant. Those programs also provide transportation for students to get home. The after-school enrichment program operates at South School, Oceanside Middle School, and Oceanside High School and serves 150 students

Sarah Rogers, the director of the after-school program, said staff are at the schools until 6 p.m. and she is willing to work on this nutrition program.

Board member Carol Bachofner said this could be a win-win situation for the community. In addition to providing nutrition to people who need it, this will offer volunteer opportunities for older people.

"This is a great opportunity for community involvement. They could be servers or clean up," she said.

Orne agreed, saying he gets calls all the time from people who want to help either financially or through volunteer time to help the schools.

RSU 13 has about 1,600 students throughout the district that serves Rockland, Thomaston, Owls Head, South Thomaston, and Cushing.

Steve Nolan, superintendent for School Administrative District 40, said since this was a law that was implemented after the district's budget was approved, SAD 40 is looking into the feasibility of implementing an after-school snack program.

The law took effect Sept. 19, having been approved by the Maine Legislature and signed by Gov. Janet Mills in June.

The law allows schools to opt out after the school board holds a public hearing and take a formal vote.

The after-school dinners are to begin being served sometime before the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

SAD 40 has one school in which 50 percent or more students qualify for free or reduced lunches. The Miller School in Waldoboro has 53 percent of its students qualify.

Both the Five-Town Community School District and SAD 28 have no schools which reach the 50 percent mark. At Camden Hills Regional High School in Rockport, 23 percent of students qualify, 17 percent for Camden-Rockport Middle School, and 18 percent for the Camden-Rockport Elementary School.

Comments (8)
Posted by: Dale Hayward | Nov 13, 2019 12:40

Valerie: I hope we agree that it is impossible to even pretend where we would be with another candidate because we have a choice of basically two people, who were chosen by their party to represent them and we always get the best candidates they have to offer: NOT! But, you are correct, we have to live with what we have, someone will disagree, I am sure.

 



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Nov 13, 2019 11:48

Dale,

To each their own.  I have my opinions, which differ from someone else's.  I do not waste my time trying to tell someone why I do not like a person in our US Government.  I could go on and on and waste your time as well as mine.

Many many children go hungry right here in Rockland.  While I do not agree to add parents, I fully believe that EVERY child has the right to proper meals.

Stephen,

It's not just high taxes and high rent.  Many children go hungry in their homes because their parent(s) are drug addicts.  It's so sad.  The children are the ones going without.  They need others with a voice to speak for them.  These children are our future.

 



Posted by: Dale Hayward | Nov 12, 2019 19:16

Valerie: I am not where we stand but I can only wonder where would we be if the alternative candidate were president. Can you list the ways we would be better off, please. Thank you. You have such intuitive feelings.

How would the meal situation at the school effect the budget? And how much?

Frances:  Please let us be positive and find the good in this project and country.

 

 



Posted by: Dale Hayward | Nov 12, 2019 19:15

Valerie: I am not where we stand but I can only wonder where would we be if the alternative candidate were president. Can you list the ways we would be better off, please. Thank you. You have such intuitive feelings.

How would the meal situation at the school effect the budget? And how much?

Frances:  Please let us be positive and find the good in this project and country.

 



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Nov 12, 2019 17:28

Frances, I believe that you meant that Trump was the most self centered person in this country.



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Nov 11, 2019 13:47

Shows the gap between the well-to-do and the not so fortunate. Imagine how some of these children feel. Not a good self-esteem building lesson. This is supposed to be the richest country in the world?  Maybe the most self-centered country would be a better word.



Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Nov 11, 2019 09:39

I Like many reading this am quite conflicted by the complexity of this issue.  No one would want to see children go hungry.  This brings out the plight of many Rockland families struggling to make ends meet brought on by high taxes with leads to high rents.  Conversely the question would need to be posed why did our local state representatives support such a measure knowing it would go unfunded then try to weasel out by saying " a school district can opt out"  ?  yea right hand a child some food then take it away, there's something you do not want to learn in school. It is quite clear our community can not and will not continue to  carry the burden of annually increasing school budgets.   Hopefully there can be a strong public discussion to help solve this dilemma.



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Nov 10, 2019 14:30

I am not surprised that there are more qualified children for school lunch. The area has high cost rentals or just higher mortgage payments to strain anyone's budget. Kudos for the school system to try to feed those caught in the gap

between high and low income.



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