June 14, 2019

Volunteers needed for free summer meal program at Dundee Park this summer

By Lorraine Glowczak

The Summer Food Service Program will be providing free summer meals again this year every weekday from Monday July 8 through Friday, August 16 from noon to 1 p.m. This seventh annual free summer meal program will be located at Dundee Park, 79 Presumpscot Road in Windham with the intention to help families save money while providing a fun, safe place for kids and teens, ages 18 and under, to eat a healthy meal every day of the week -unless the park is closed.

Summer fun and free meals at Dundee Park
The Summer Meal program is served by a number of volunteers throughout the community. Volunteers assist each day from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to set up, receive the meals, serve the meals and clean up. “Volunteers are asked to commit to two or three time slots over the course of the six-week session,” stated Michelle Jordan, volunteer coordinator. “They can volunteer on a weekly basis or just for one of the months.” 

There will be mandatory training for volunteers on Wednesday, June 19 at 1 p.m. at Westbrook High School in Room 114. If you are interested in learning more about volunteering, you can contact Jordan at wpsvolunteer @gmail.com. The program is most in need of volunteers on Monday's, Wednesday's and Friday's. If you want to volunteer and can't make that meeting, please let Jordan know and she’ll make arrangements for you.

Statistics indicate that one out of every five school age children are food insecure. This includes children in our small-town communities of Windham and Raymond.

According to the Economic Research Service division of the United States Department of Agriculture, the following is what is known about food insecurity in the U.S.

The defining characteristic of very low food security is that, at times during the year, the food intake of household members is reduced, and their normal eating patterns are disrupted because the household lacks money and other resources for food. Very low food security can be characterized in terms of the conditions that households in this category typically report in the annual food security survey.

98 percent reported having worried that their food would run out before they got money to buy more.
97 percent reported that the food they bought just did not last, and they did not have money to get more.
95 percent reported that they could not afford to eat balanced meals.
97 percent reported that an adult had cut the size of meals or skipped meals because there was not enough money for food.
88 percent reported that this had occurred in 3 or more months.
68 percent of respondents reported that they had been hungry but did not eat because they could not afford enough food.
44 percent of respondents reported having lost weight because they did not have enough money for food.
33 percent reported that an adult did not eat for a whole day because there was not enough money for food.
26 percent reported that this had occurred in 3 or more months.” www.ers.usda.gov.

“I think it is important to volunteer and to help bridge the summer gap that students experience during summer vacation,” Jeanne Reilly, RSU#14 Food Service Director stated in a previous interview. “This gap is pretty severe right here in Windham and Raymond and we need all the help we can get.”

Volunteers, and their children, will have free access into the park, as entrance fees do apply. Park stickers that affix to your vehicle will be replacing passes that were used last year and will be available   for Windham and Raymond residents and can be requested from Reilly at jreilly@rsu14.org.

For those who are interested in volunteering, contact Jordan at wpsvolunteer@gmail.com. To learn more about the program itself, contact Marge Govoni at mgovoni@rsu14.org.
Lunch must be eaten at the park and cannot be taken home; this is the policy for this program.

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