New Initiative Aims to End Child Hunger in Maine
The state of Maine has unveiled an ambitious campaign designed to combat child hunger. The campaign is called Full Plates, Full Potential, to highlight the fact that children cannot reach their full potential if they are wondering when their next meal will be. The program was created with the sole intention of providing food to the children who need it. They plan to accomplish this in part by providing aid to local school districts. In return, school districts will be asked to encourage families in need to register to receive free or reduced-price lunches. The Full Plates, Full Potential initiative makes use of government grants that are available to provide assistance to food-insecure families. Hunger affects an estimated 87,000 children in the state of Maine alone. While there is federal funding available, families can only make use of this government grant money if they register for assistance.
It may seem simple enough to identify the children in need of assistance, but the process is more complicated than one would assume at first glance. Of the state’s 87,000 food-insecure children, approximately 24,000 did not register to receive assistance this year. Which means that despite the existence of available funding, many hungry children are still not receiving the free or reduced-price lunches they need. The Full Plates, Full Potential initiative is determined to remove the obstacles that prevent available resources from reaching the children they are intended to help.
It is believed that pride may play a significant role in the failure to register for assistance. Sometimes, families do not fill out the necessary applications due to a misplaced sense of shame. Another of the initiative’s goals is to get rid of the stigma surrounding assistance programs. There is no shame in asking for help, but the idea that there is may be preventing some families from coming forward and asking for the help that they need.
According to the campaign’s coordinators, over 60 school districts responded to their request. Of those, six school districts have been chosen and will receive $500 to implement their plans to reach out to families and encourage them to fill out the necessary applications. The selected districts include South Paris, Woodland, Winthrop, Greenville, Thorndike and Augusta.
Full Plates, Full Potential was founded in 2014. There were a large number of people involved in getting the idea off the ground. The creation and success of the movement is owed to various nonprofit groups, food directors, government officials, restaurant owners and businesses. No matter the background of the people behind the campaign, they all became involved for the same reason. They supported the movement because they could not stand the thought of children going hungry, especially when they didn’t have to. The group states that in the state of Maine, roughly one in four children suffers from hunger.