Senator Collins Speaks At Summer Food Service Program Kick-Off In Bangor

BANGOR, ME — U.S. Senator Susan Collins spoke at the Summer Food Service Program Kick-Off event at Capehart Community Center in Bangor this morning. The program helps to provide children with free and nutritious meals throughout the summer months when the school lunches they depend on during the school year are unavailable.

According to the Good Shepherd Food Bank, a sponsor of the program, more than 80,000 Maine children get the nutrition they need through the free and reduced-price lunch program during the school year. During the summer months, however, only about 17 percent have access to healthy and delicious lunches from local meal programs.

To help remedy this troubling discrepancy, the Summer Food Service Program brings together federal, state, and local government organizations to help meet the nutritional needs of these children. This summer, Good Shepherd Food Bank will provide free nutritious meals at five summer lunch sites in partnership with the Bangor Housing Authority, the Brewer Housing Authority, the Bangor Public Library, and the Bangor School Department.

“This program demonstrates the power of partnerships,” said Senator Collins. “Organizations and schools across our state have come together to ensure that summer is a time of fun and of good nutrition for our children.  The success of the Bangor-Brewer program serves as a model that can help end summer hunger throughout our State.”

Senator Collins is a founding member of the Senate Hunger Caucus and has been a long-time advocate for the SNAP program and for Head Start to help low-income individuals and families meet their nutritional needs.

See below for a copy of Senator Collins’ remarks at today’s event, as prepared for delivery:

"Thank you, Kristen.  It is a pleasure to join you today in the cause of making sure Maine’s children are well fed.

"The Bangor-Brewer Summer Food Service Program demonstrates the power of partnerships.  Federal, state, and local governments, organizations like the Good Shepherd Food Bank, and schools have come together to ensure that summer should be a time of fun and of good nutrition for our children.  The Good Shepherd Food Bank, with its many supporters and volunteers throughout Maine, has led the way in bringing this partnership together.

The need is great.  During the school year, more than 80,000 Maine children get the nutrition they need through the free and reduced-price lunch program.  Yet during the summer months, only about 17 percent have access to healthy and delicious lunches from local meal programs.  That means that some 66,000 Maine children go without. The success of the Bangor-Brewer program serves as a model that can help end summer hunger throughout our State.

"It is especially significant that Good Shepherd works with volunteers and organizations in the community to offer enrichment activities, such as gardening and sports.   The Bangor-Brewer program truly is helping kids power up for summer fun.

"As a founding member of the Senate Hunger Caucus, I know that we have done much in Washington to ensure food security for Americans of all ages, but that there is much more to do.  From infants to seniors, good nutrition is a vital part of wellness and of preventing and treating disease.  It is essential that our neighbors in need have both enough to eat and that they have access to food that contributes to good health.

"Throughout my service in the Senate, I have been a strong advocate for the SNAP program and for Head Start to help low-income individuals and families meet their nutritional needs.  I appreciate the importance of affordable, nutritious meals through the school programs that serve so many children, and continue to work to ensure that Congress provides robust funding for the most effective food and nutrition programs.

"But we will always need the caring and dedicated citizens in our communities who are on the front lines.  The Bangor-Brewer Summer Food Service Program is a shining example of people working together to make a difference, and I congratulate you on this great accomplishment.