County schools find new ways to provide meals to students

HOULTON, Maine — With Aroostook County schools closed for at least the next two weeks, if not longer, most school districts are finding ways to ensure students not only have access to their homework assignments, but meals as well.

RSU 29 Superintendent Ellen Halliday said Tuesday that her district will provide free meals to students in the same manner it does during the summer, starting Wednesday, March 18.

Meals will be available to any student 18 years old and younger for both breakfast and lunch for the duration of the school closure.

“In order to receive a meal, participants must be present at the time of the meal service,” Halliday said. “We will not be requiring forms for people to fill out. Lunch will be served for the day as well as breakfast for the following day. Meals will be given to participants and they are allowed to eat the meal off site. We will also be providing meals for Saturday and Sunday on Friday.”

With 1,388 students in the district, Halliday said RSU 29 did not have the capacity to deliver that many meals to students on a daily basis.

Meals will be provided 11 a..-noon at Houlton Middle-High School at the cafeteria entrance of the building. Houlton Southside School will also have meals 11a.m.-noon at the rear entrance of the school, near the cafeteria. Students of Houlton Elementary School may pick up their meals at either of the other two schools.

Students who live in Littleton will be able to pick up their meals at the Littleton Pit Stop between 11 and 11:30 a.m., while those who reside in Monticello may pick up their meals at the Monticello Town Office between 11 and 11:30 a.m.

And for those students who reside on the Maliseet Tribal lands, meals may be picked up at the Maliseet Recreation Building between 11 and 11:30 am.

Additional pickup spots will be available at Military Street Baptist Church, 307 Military St., and the Houlton Wesleyan Church, 18 Kelleran St., between 11 and 11:30 a.m. to alleviate congestion at the schools.

Those who are unable to get to one of the sites for pickup are encouraged to call their school to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

RSU 50 (Southern Aroostook Community School) is taking things one step further by delivering free breakfast and lunch to its students on a daily basis, if meals are desired.

Superintendent Jon Porter said Tuesday that remote learning packets, as well as breakfast and lunch, will be delivered to homes of students in RSU 50 starting Wednesday, March 18. Breakfast and lunch will come as one combined delivery. Parents and guardians are asked to notify the school if they wish to have meals, as they will not automatically be delivered daily.

There will be no cost for the meals.

“This is free food for all students 18 years old and under, regardless of income,” Porter said. “This is a federally funded program. We are only doing one run a day, delivering both breakfast and lunch together. We are also sending packets of work for students home every Wednesday.”

Porter added that teachers have been working the last two days putting together learning packets for students, and also putting plans together for the use of technology to deliver lessons if the school closure lasts longer than two weeks.

“Some of our teachers are already using technology with students, but we are also providing paper resources for students without internet services at home,” he said.

The district will be submitting its remote learning plan to the Maine Department of Education for approval in the next couple of weeks.

“It’s been inspiring to watch the staff the last two days as we develop a remote learning plan,” Porter said. “Everybody is chipping in to help and that is a positive we can take from the tough circumstances.”

SAD 70 (Hodgdon) is giving parents two options to receive meals and their learning packets. The first option is to pick up these items between 10 a.m. and noon at the front entrance of either Millpond Elementary or Hodgdon Middle-High School.

The second option will see meals and learning packets delivered to each regular bus stop on their routes between 10 a.m. and noon.

Parents are asked to contact either Hodgdon Millpond School or Hodgdon Middle-High School to specify which method they prefer.

“We are all dedicated to providing your children with quality learning experiences for the duration of the school closure,” SAD 70 Superintendent Steve Fitzpatrick said. “In addition, our teachers will be providing your child with thoughtful and meaningful feedback on learning packet materials submitted back to the school.”

On Fridays, completed learning packets will be gathered and new packets will be distributed via one of the two options listed above.

“Our buses will not be running to Houlton during this school closure time frame,” Fitzpatrick said. “If your child lives in Houlton and attends school in SAD 70 under a Superintendent’s Agreement, you will need to arrange for Option No. 1 [school pick up].”

East Grand School in Danforth will start delivering food 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 18. According to Superintendent Peggy White, drivers will do deliveries using the afternoon bus routes and will stop where they typically drop off a child.

“We ask that someone is ready to greet a school employee at the bus door, so we can hand you the food,” White said. “If you are not planning to be home or have made other arrangements for your child, please contact Holly Dicker at school to let us know. The meal pattern will be that day’s lunch and the next day’s breakfast. “

White added that her district was providing meals for all students 18 years and younger regardless if they are East Grand students.

“For the families in town or surrounding towns that do not receive services from East Grand School and are 18 years and younger, there will be a table located in front of the school that will offer meals to them,” White said. “All meals are at no cost to the families. We are asking that everyone please accept these meals on behalf of the East Grand School Nutrition team.”

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