Dear Child hunger champion,
As we endure the coldest and darkest time of the year, it can be hard to find the light, especially these days. With the Omicron wave, our schools and community programs continue to face unprecedented challenges: supply chain disruptions, staffing shortages, and the fatigue that comes with being in a direct service role nearly two full years into the pandemic. But through it all, Maine’s child nutrition teams persevere, unwavering in their commitment to ensure that every child has consistent access to healthy, delicious meals.
At Full Plates, we are dedicated to showing up for these child hunger heroes, providing them with critical partnership, investment, and advocacy. And while we’re doing everything possible to support these programs today, we remain similarly focused on advancing real, sustainable changes to our child nutrition systems in the hopes that the barriers to meals that kids face–many of which predate the pandemic–can be eliminated once and for all.
In these dark days, we find light in the progress that we’ve been able to make and in knowing that we’re not alone in this fight. This work is only possible through collective action and it warms our hearts to see so many of you step up to support our cause in ways big and small. As each day gets a little lighter, I hope the knowledge that you’re having an impact brightens your horizon too.
Justin Strasburger, Executive Director
Policy & Advocacy in Action
During the 2021 legislative session, one pillar of Full Plates' policy priorities was to lead the charge on ensuring more local foods end up on kids' plates. The new Local Foods Fund increased the state reimbursement cap for local foods and expanded the list of eligible foods beyond produce. In addition to local produce, child nutrition programs can now be reimbursed for other local products such as meat, fish, tofu, eggs, and value-added dairy products like yogurt. We're now halfway through the school year and are already seeing the impact. So far this school year, Maine schools spent a total of $200,937 on local foods - in just four months! With the new incentives to buy locally, Maine schools are more resilient to supply chain issues, are able to buy high-quality and delicious food, and their purchases support local growers, farmers, and producers.
Read more about this in our inaugural blog post:
Grant Program Highlights
Noble Middle School in Berwick, Maine, a recent Full Plates Breakfast Grant recipient, was an early adopter of Breakfast in the Classroom, a service model that makes school breakfasts more accessible and efficient. Nearly 30 years ago, Lynnette Harriman, now one of our Child Nutrition Consultants, helped introduce Breakfast in the Classroom to the nutrition program in Berwick. We talked to Lynnette to learn about how their breakfast program started and how it's evolved over time.
With the new grant funds, Noble Middle School purchased a third breakfast cart so they can have a cart for each floor of the school. This new equipment has made their program more efficient than ever - they now feed breakfast to 250-300 students in about 15 minutes!
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In December, Full Plates passed the $2.5 million mark in funding we've invested in child nutrition programs throughout Maine. With your support, to date, we've awarded $2,543,466 through 718 grants, connecting thousands of Maine kids to millions of meals.
Welcome, New Board Members!
We are pleased to announce that we have expanded our Board of Directors! Four new board members have been appointed to support our vision of ending childhood hunger in Maine. These new members each bring unique experiences, perspectives, and insight that will help guide and inform our work in the years ahead. Join us in welcoming Chelsey Carrier, Jeanne LaPointe, David Pease, and Diane Woods. Read more about our newest board members.
FEED KIDS Partner Spotlight
High Wire Hydroponics believes in the importance of caring for their community. The locally owned and grown hydroponics and garden supply shop joined the FEED KIDS movement in November of 2020, eager to give back in any way they could. High Wire donates 1% of sales from their premium nutrient product lines - Cyco, Canna, Fox Farm, etc. - to the FEED KIDS campaign so all Maine children have the nutrients they need to grow.
Learn more about the FEED KIDS movement and the everyday ways local businesses are making Maine a better place to be a kid.
A Look Ahead
In the weeks and months ahead, we'll be focusing on:
News Center Maine: Grants to support free after school meals coming to Maine. Read more
PBS News Hour: How Maine is trying to take food insecurity off kids’ plates. Read more
Sun Journal: Teamwork enables Rumford-based school district to expand meal deliveries. Read more
Full Plates Full Potential
14 Maine Street Box 3 | Brunswick, Maine 04011