Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, July 25, 2019
No child hungry with Island Food Program
Signs at the end of the driveway at Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School advertise for the Island Food Program, which offers meals at both the school and the Island Community Center in Stonington, five days a week for both breakfast and lunch.
by Monique Labbe
Youth in Deer Isle and Stonington, as well as the surrounding area, will once again be offered free meals throughout the summer courtesy of the Island Food Program, coordinated by CSD 13 Food Services Supervisor Sheila Nevells.
The program is available to any child under the age of 18, with sites open for breakfast Monday through Friday from 8 to 8:30 a.m. and lunch from 12 to 12:30 p.m., at both the Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School and Island Community Center in Stonington. Additionally, Nevells sends out bagged lunches for summer camps and sports camps happening in the area for those who participate in the program.
“My biggest thing is, if there is a kid that is hungry, I need to feed them, it’s the Nana and the mom in me,” said Nevells, who took over the program last year.
Each day, Nevells and a couple volunteers prepare food at 6 a.m., both hot meals and bagged lunches, to be served, delivered or picked up. Between the summer school program at the elementary school, a handful of walk-ins and the lunches taken off-site, Nevells said she is serving over 100 children a day.
“That’s double what it was last year,” she said.
Each lunch includes a healthy snack option, a main dish, milk or water, and fruits and vegetables.
“Sometimes you have a kid in here with just a pop tart that they’ve brought from home. You know they’re hungry and looking for something nutritious,” she said.
The program is funded by the Maine Department of Education, as well as community grants Nevells has been able to obtain. The requirements are that she serve meals beneficial to the children, and present paperwork of what she has served to how many weekly.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s so worth it,” she said. “These kids refer to me as Nana, Ms. Sheila, Ms. Nevells. They know I won’t let them starve.”
Nevells said that anyone is welcome, and that schools or camps in the area who would like to either bring the participants by or order out bagged lunches can do so, provided she have a little prior notice.
“We’re here to give meals to as many kids as we can reach,” she said. “I’m having a great time doing this, it’s what we’re here for.”