Alfond to donate more time to make sure Maine's kids do not go hungry with Full Plates-Full Potential

By Ramona du Houx

Charlie Mitchell, bought out his co-founder Justin Alfond becoming the owner of Bayside Bowl in Portland, Maine on February 14, 2020.

"It was an honor helping bring Bayside Bowl into reality and build it into one of the best bowling facilities in the world. I decided that after a decade, it was time for me to step back and focus my attention on other priorities, like ending child hunger in Maine. As a fan and customer, I can't wait to see what the next 10 years have in store for Bayside Bowl," said Alfrond. The former Maine State Senator, of Portland, founded Full Plates Full Potential to help end Maine child hunger.

To that end On February 28, 2020  at Westbrook Middle School a new grant program, funded by Oakhurst Dairy, and administered by Full Plates Full Potential will help schools and qualified after school enrichment programs provide more after school meals for Maine students.

Over 43 percent of all Maine Public School children rely on school meals to get the nutrition they need everyday. These students qualify for school meals, but too many of them face barriers to accessing school meals. On weekends many go hungry.

“Our children are the future of our state, but, today, many of them don’t have access to nutritional meals outside of school. That’s unacceptable. Through this new partnership and innovative program, Oakhurst and Full Plates Full Potential will provide nutritious meals outside of school to thousands more children across Maine, helping them to live healthier lives and positioning them for greater success. I applaud Oakhurst and Full Plates Full Potential for their work to ensure no child goes hungry in Maine,” said Governor Janet Mills at the program's announcement.

In the center is Governor Mills and Justin Alfond, both flanked by representatives of Oakhurst Dairy at Westbrook Middle School announcing the new grant program to help feed Maine's hungry children.

"Maine’s child hunger crisis is winnable. There is no other option for our kids. Today’s announcement that Oakhurst Dairy is investing $300,000 to expand Maine's afterschool meals program illustrates once again that we do our best work when collaborating. Thank you Oakhurst Dairy, the Maine Department of Education and our partners. Together we are making a difference for tens of thousands of children and their families," said Alfond.

In 2011 Alfond's bill to start a summer food program became law creating awareness around child hunger in Maine.

Started in 2014 by John Woods and Justin Alfond, the organization came out of the work of the Maine Legislature’s Task Force to End Student Hunger. Alfond was the President of the Maine State Senate and realized  Maine needed a statewide organization focused solely on maximizing participation in federal child nutrition programs.

Bayside Bowl's 25,000-square-foot, $3.5 million expansion in 2017  allowed the venue to add eight more bowling lanes, a mezzanine with full bar, an old-school arcade, a rooftop bar with a taco truck and fire pit, along with a 422 solar panel energy array.

The two started Bayside Bowl when both were single. “We were in a very different place,” said former Maine State Senator Alfond. “It’s been an amazing adventure with Charlie and with the community and bowlers around the world coming to Bayside Bowl. The Bowl Portland league he started 13 years ago, is known throughout the country for how you can bring great bowling for all people, all genders, and all ages together for a competitive and social environment, where there’s a DJ playing and people are having a great time.”

Becoming a community center was also a goal of Alfond's, as he stated in a 2011 article in Maine Insights.

Bayside Bowl opened its doors in 2010 at 58 Alder St., in Portland's Bayside neighborhood. In its first six years, Bayside Bowl housed 12 lanes of 10-pin bowling, live music, award-winning food and craft cocktails. In 2017, Bayside Bowl expanded to 20 lanes, a new mezzanine, an old school arcade and a panoramic rooftop deck with an Airstream serving tacos, a full cocktail bar and solar gardens.

Bowlers Journal International has selected Bayside Bowl as the Best Renovated Center in the United States. Bayside Bowl is known throughout the bowling world for not only its bowling leagues but also for hosting the Professional Bowlers Association PBA League.

Bayside Bowl will host the PBA League for the seventh year in July.