End 68 days of hunger is still working hard to protect our kids. Special Thanks to the Lions Club, the Rotary and all the volunteers that make this program successful.
• Bins are located at Enoteca in Kittery Point and Kittery Estates
• Donations can be made on the Web site end68hoursofhunger.org; or checks made payable to the End 68 Hours of Hunger can be sent to David B. Gooch, treasurer, 276 Haley Road, Kittery, Me. 03904. Paypal form of making donations available on the website as well.
the full story with pictures.
The following is from an article by Deborah McDermott and the Portsmouth Herald in 2012.
Program targets weekend hunger
Students receive backpacks of food
There are, said Kittery, Maine, resident Pauli Rines, children in town living “under the radar” — children so poor and so in need that they regularly go without food from school lunch Friday to school breakfast Monday.
In fact, in a school population of slightly more than 1,000, 62 students — or about 8 percent — fall into this category. Teachers, cafeteria staff, counselors and nurses know them from their Monday morning lethargy, or their quickness to lash out, even as their stomachs rumble.
“Everyone is amazed that there is this issue in Kittery,” said Rines, former director of Kittery Adult Education. “Some of these children are homeless, some come from grinding poverty. Yet few people have really paid attention to them.”
Until now, that is.
Rines and fellow Kittery resident Kris Lynes are coordinating an ever-increasing circle of town service organizations, churches and businesses united in making sure these students are properly fed each weekend.
They have joined End 68 Hours of Hunger, a Dover-based nonprofit organization started by retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Claire Bloom last year. So far, there are programs in Dover, Somersworth and Kittery, and programs will soon begin in Eliot, South Berwick and Old Orchard Beach, Maine, and Rochester and Wakefield.
Bloom said she became aware of these quietly hungry children when her book group discussed a book about a highly impoverished area of the country in the fall of 2010. A member who’s a Dover teacher said, “‘We have them here, too. On the weekends, we have children who have nothing to eat.'”
Her response was identical to that of Rines, who heard about End 68 Hours of Hunger when Bloom spoke last fall to the Kittery Rotary Club: “How can that be?”
Bloom said she began to do research and found there were other organizations in the country that had recognized this same need. The model she settled on was what she called “the backpack model.”
Each Thursday, a group of volunteers gathers and readies backpacks full of food that are delivered to the school or schools on Friday morning for distribution to students identified by the school staff. The backpacks themselves are nondescript, in grays and blacks to ensure a boy doesn’t get a pink backpack, for instance.
End 68 Hours of Hunger began in the Dover school system last fall and Bloom said it’s met with great success.
“Here’s the interesting thing; it’s an invisible program,” she said. “A child may be ridiculed for saying, ‘Daddy lost his job and we don’t have any food,’ and they quickly learn not to say anything. So the only way you know is by being vigilant and watching these kids.
“The school cafeteria workers see kids come in for breakfast Monday morning, and silently eat every bit of food before them, then turn to their neighbor and say, ‘Are you going to eat that?’ That’s when you know.”
Immediately after Bloom spoke to the Kittery Rotary, Rines picked up the baton and ran with it. Rotary president Brad Hirst, minister of the Second Christian Congregational Church in Kittery, contacted local ministers and asked for help. From that, came not only volunteers and donations, but the First Baptist Church of Kittery Point offered space for workers to store the food and staples for the backpacks.
The Lions Club joined the Rotary in pledging funds and helpers, Kennebunk Savings Bank gave them a free checking account and grant funding, Home Depot in Portsmouth donated all the shelving and bins for the food, Timberland donated backpacks.
Last Monday, Town Councilor Gary Beers donated his councilor’s stipend to the program, saying, “For our own kids in our own town, this is a truly admirable effort.”
“Things come from everywhere,” Rines said. “You just never know.”
The program started only a few months ago and is beginning small, with nine backpacks feeding 14 students — some include food for a sibling. The students are all at the Mitchell Primary School, as it was determined the need for nourishing food is most acute for younger children.
The backpacks typically contain peanut butter, jelly, individual boxes of low-sugar cereal or oatmeal, fruit cups, fruit juice boxes, tubes of crackers, canned soup and pasta, nutrition bars and tuna or chicken in a can.
Teachers report seeing a difference in the children on Monday, and the students “just love it,” said Mitchell Principal David Foster.
“They’re very proud to be bringing that backpack home on the weekends,” he said. “It’s food. It’s great. They’re hungry and they’re helping their family. And, we as a school, are very thankful we have hungry kids eating meals on the weekends.”
School Superintendent Allyn Hutton said the students who are being helped by End 68 Hours of Hunger are receiving two messages, both equally important. The first is, you will not have to spend the weekend going hungry.
The second: “People care about you,” she said. “They have that intrinsic knowledge that someone cares. These kids may not always be getting that message.”
The group plans to expand to Shapleigh Middle School next fall, but as students get older they become a lot more self-conscious, Hutton said.
In fact, of the 62 students identified, most are at Traip Academy. Those students, she said, will view the backpacks in a different light than their elementary-school counterparts.
“I anticipate it will become more difficult as they become older,” Hutton said. “The older students are more sensitive to what their peers think about them.”
For instance, many teens refuse to participate in the free- and reduced-lunch program because they don’t want their classmates to know their home circumstances.
“By the time we get to that level, we’re going to have to come up with different strategies,” she said.
But overall, she said she’s thrilled that the program has started in Kittery and believes it will pay off in a big way in the years to come.
“My opinion is that this has made a big difference in the short amount of time we’ve had it,” she said. “It’s time to take care of these students.”