BREWER (NEWS CENTER Maine) – Hundreds of Maine kids rely on lunch programs across the state to get a healthy meal every day throughout the summer.
There are more than 400 locations statewide where volunteers provide bagged lunches to kids right in their own communities.
"It's just a good thing for the community,” Corey Loomis said.
Loomis volunteered to run the program in his community in Brewer for the first time this year.
He said his own family has depended on the program in the past, and he wanted to do his part to give back.
"You get looked down upon sometimes for it," he said. “ It happens to everybody. Everybody has a low spot when they need a helping hand."
With the help of his daughters, they organize and distribute the lunches provided by a partnership between the Brewer and Bangor housing authorities and Good Shepherd Food Bank.
"We've been taking and taking, so now we can give back,” Loomis’ daughter Emma said.
It is about more than just eating. Loomis also helps maintain a garden where kids learn how to grow their own food. He said it also helps bring kids out of the house for games and other activities.
The federally-funded program provides more than 750,000 meals each summer. For some, it is the only nutritious meal they receive during the day.
Officials with the Good Shepherd Food Bank and local agencies said they have seen an increase in need year after year.
“It’s going to be a busy year,” Renee Butler with Bangor Housing said. “We seem to increase the program more and more every single year. The word gets out there more, we have more participants more families that get involved, more volunteers."
Corey Loomis said he hopes, by doing a small part to make a difference, he also teaches the kids something they can carry with them.
"I'm hoping they take away a good, positive image from this and how to take care of their own,” Loomis said.
To find a location in your community click here. You can also text “Food” to 877-877.