School districts prepare students for vacation with healthy snacks

FARMINGTON – With a week-long school vacation on the horizon, Mt. Blue Regional School District staff members are focusing on meeting a need they see frequently among students: a lack of nutritional food at home.

The Backpack Snacks Initiative will provide healthy options for students while away from school- a place where they can count on getting two full meals a day if needed. Gathered by the MBRSD Education Association, staff members throughout the district have been contributing food to the cause, filling the packs to be sent home with students who are identified as possibly in need. School nurses, teachers and other staff members have been submitting the suggestions to program organizers.

“There is a considerable need at the middle school and high school levels,” initiative organizer and Cape Cod Hill School Reading Recovery teacher Jen Ladd said.

The program is not the only resource to students living in food insecure situations. Several of the local schools have in-house food pantries available to families, including at W.G. Mallett School in Farmington.

This is the third year the Mallett School food pantry has been in operation, and facilitator/school nurse Katie Hallman said the need has never been greater.

“We have gone from serving 11 families during our first year to serving 50 last month,” Hallman said.

The pantry is open once a month, bringing in nearly 2,000 pounds of food, including fresh produce and milk. By the end of the day the food is almost always gone, and any that happens to be leftover is passed on to local Franklin County food pantries.

The program is funded by Good Shepherd Food Bank, with milk contributions made by Oakhurst Dairy.

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