By Ramona du Houx
December 11, 2020
Full Plates begins accepting statewide applications for $60,000 in funding
Portland, ME – In the midst of the COVID 19 surge, Full Plates Full Potential has opened a new $60,000 grant cycle of the Oakhurst Afterschool Meal Grant Program. The Child and Adult Care Food Program At-Risk Afterschool Meals (CACFP), or more commonly referred to as the Afterschool Meal Program, is a critical USDA Child Nutrition Program being used by 16 school districts consisting of 40 individual schools and 19 community partners.
“Starting or expanding Oakhurst Afterschool Meal Programs is more critical than ever before,” said Anna Korsen, director of advocacy and community partnerships at Full Plates. “We know that more kids are experiencing hunger in the pandemic and afterschool meals provide great opportunities for kids to bring meals home afterschool, and over weekends and holidays.”
Full Plates Full Potential, the Maine-based nonprofit working to end child hunger statewide, has worked for several years with schools and community organizations to start programs and increase participation in existing afterschool meal programs. The potential and need for afterschool meal programs has only been magnified by the pandemic. At least 80,000 kids rely on school meals and for some children, school lunch may be the last meal of their day.
Full Plates Full Potential and their leadership council partners worked together to pass critical afterschool meal program legislation in 2019 that mandated that all communities must start an afterschool meal program if they have over 50% of their kids eligible for free and reduced school meals. LD 577 became public law in September of 2019.
In February of 2020, Full Plates Full Potential partnered with Oakhurst to tackle this significant childhood hunger issue. Since their launch, the Oakhurst Afterschool Meal Grant Program has awarded $84,586 to 20 afterschool meal programs. Oakhurst has committed $300,000 to Full Plates Full Potential over the next three years to fund the grant program.
“Many kids leave school with lunch being their last meal of the day and that’s simply not okay,” said John Bennett, President of Oakhurst Dairy. “At Oakhurst, we want every kid to have access to the nutrition they need so they can grow, learn, and ultimately reach their full potential.”
The Bangor Region YMCA received a $5,000 Oakhurst Afterschool Meal Grant in May of this year. They used the critical funds for their before and afterschool program and all-day school age academy. As students navigate a challenging and stressful school year, the Bangor Region YMCA has been providing transportation to-and-from their afterschool program. With the help of the Oakhurst After School grant, the YMCA has been able to increase access to its afterschool meal program and school age academy on hybrid learning days. This has led to increased participation from local students, as well as better engagement in schoolwork.
One of the program participant’s grandparents recently wrote into the program to demonstrate the immense impact the afterschool program has had on her grandchild, saying, “She tells us she is enjoying learning at the Y and the people she’s working with are making a difference for her. Thank you all for everything you’re doing.” Using the YMCA’s internet to stay up to date on schoolwork, being provided with transportation to-and-from the program on hybrid learning days and getting a regular afterschool meal has made a great difference for this child and many others that participate in the YMCA’s CACFP program.
Maine Child Hunger Statistics and CACFP for 2019/2020 Academic Year:
- 179,000 total student population
- At least 43% of students qualify for free and reduced school meals
- At least 80,000 students qualify for free and reduced school meals
- To date, FPFP has awarded $84,586 to 20 afterschool meal programs.
About Full Plates Full Potential
Full Plates Full Potential is on a mission to end child hunger in Maine by supporting all kids getting access to nutritious school meals. We partner with nonprofit advocates, local businesses and restaurants, advocating for policy changes at the state level, granting funds and providing technical assistance to schools, hosting year-round events and fundraisers, and promoting the FEED KIDS cause marketing initiative. Learn more at fullplates.org.