RSU 71 to distribute free vacation meals Dec. 22 to kids in need – By Kendra Caruso – Belfast – Waldo

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By Kendra Caruso | Dec 21, 2020

Belfast — Regional School Unit 71 will be handing out 200 boxes containing five holiday breakfast and lunch meals to families during pickup Dec. 22 at Troy Howard Middle School from 11 a.m. to noon and Capt. Albert W Stevens School from noon to 1 p.m.

Fifty families have already reserved boxes but they are available to any child in need under 18 in the school district, Director of Nutrition Perley Martin said. The meals all meet school food service requirements.

“Our job as food professionals is to feed the kids,” he said. “… So, what we’re doing is during the holidays we’re preparing five breakfasts and five lunches for students.”

Families should eat the pre-cooked meals within five days of receiving them, he said. It is part of the schools initiative to keep kids fed during breaks and vacations. School breakfasts and lunches have been free to all students this year.

Twelve volunteers, some of whom were school faculty donating their time, packaged the 200 boxes in less than an hour Dec. 21.

Staff cooked 190 pounds of turkey and Martin made homemade gravy that went into each meal, he said. “This isn’t Stouffer’s, this is the real thing,” he said. Breakfasts consist of five packages of assorted cereals, fruit, juice and milk.

He expects not to have any boxes left over and will distribute them during CASS and THMS pickup times so families can efficiently access them, he said. Waldo County schools have always shown a greater financial need for school meals than the state average, with 54% of county students qualifying for reduced or free lunch in previous school years.

Parents have expressed gratitude toward the district for providing meals to students during breaks, Martin said. He wants to continue to provide meals for students during February and April vacations. He hopes it helps families this school year while unemployment is so high because of the coronavirus.

“It’s really rewarding to me to have the parents take the time and thank us for this,” he said.

For more information or to reserve a box contact Martin at pmartin@rsu71.org.

RSU 71 Nutrition Director Perley Martin helps box holiday meals to be distributed to families for winter vacation Dec. 22.
(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)

Boxed holiday meals wait in Troy Howard Middle School’s cooler Dec. 21 for distribution to families in need.
(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)

A volunteer places a box of holiday meals on a dolly Dec. 21 at Troy Howard Middle School.
(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)

A volunteer packs a box with holiday meals Dec. 21 at Troy Howard Middle School to be distributed to families in need.
(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)

(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)

(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)

(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)

(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)

(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)

(Photo by: Kendra Caruso)

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