Since the pandemic, there has been additional funding to schools to provide food for children with the aim of eliminating hunger for those families with children who are food insecure. While that funding is not the same now as it was during and immediately following the pandemic, there has been a noticeable difference with the number of families utilizing the Food4Kids program. At the beginning of the pandemic, we made significant changes to the backpack program in order to keep up with the demand. We had to go to a pick up at two locations rather than home delivery because of the volume. One location for pick up was the COS Food Pantry. As parents picked up their food bags, they saw for the first time our Food Pantry and how it was set up like a grocery store. Upon seeing how much more variety and amount they could get by shopping at the Food Pantry, they switched from the Food4Kids program to our Food Pantry program. It was a no brainer for them. As a result, the F4K numbers went down considerably, almost to 0. So, we ended the Food4Kids program and ramped up our Food Pantry program in preparation for the increase.
Here is some final food for thought:
Food insecurity has always been a reality in Maine schools; however, COS continues to do its part in helping to eliminate hunger. We serve children but now within the context of families and giving them the ability to select their own food items.
The Food Pantry program is run completely by wonderful COS volunteers who assist neighbors who come to our Food Pantry located at 19 Park Street in Kennebunk. The program is completely funded through the generous gifts of numerous COS donors