Childhood hunger has been widely discussed in the Maine media this winter, with some families reportedly being forced to choose between eating and heating. According to federal statistics, almost one in four Maine children are considered "food insecure." The Lubec Community Outreach Center (LCOC), in partnership with Auburn‑based Good Shepherd Food Bank, is working to correct that problem in Lubec through the Hornet's Hearth program.
Beginning March 14, students at the Lubec Elementary School are being provided with food to help fill the weekend gap, when subsidized school meals are not available. Eighty‑three percent of the students at the Lubec school are eligible for either partially or fully subsidized breakfast and lunch meals.
"Mondays are a big day for breakfast," says Principal Tina Wormell, who coined the name for the program. "[Students] come in here thinking about their bellies, and they can't concentrate."
The food, which includes items like spaghetti dinners and breakfast cereals, will be packed by LCOC volunteers and distributed to students on Friday afternoons. The LCOC, through private donors, provides matching funds to the Good Shepherd Food Bank to cover the cost of the food and transportation. No taxpayer funds are involved, and recipients are not required to pass a "means test."
While the details of the actual distribution process are still in development, care is taken to assure student anonymity. "We don't want to stigmatize anyone," explains Wormell. The grocery bags will be provided to all students at the start, she says. "We'd rather offend someone by sending them something they don't need than risk not sending something where it is needed."
"We hope to get some refrigerators," says LCOC Executive Director Cathy Arrington. "That will let us add fresh produce to the selection." The group hopes to continue the service as part of the annual summer recreation program.