Friday, November 10, 2017

Monetary donations needed to provide healthy meals for Windham/Raymond students by Lorraine Glowczak

Only monetary donations accepted in order to ensure nutritional items and menus are similarly based
Nearly 40 percent of the students in the Windham/Raymond schools receive free or reduce-priced meals as a result of their family’s financial challenges. The students are provided these meals during the school year. 
However, the weekends and school and summer vacations prove to be more difficult for these same students whose meals are not provided to them on a regular basis. A few of the RSU#14 staff are working together to do something about these challenges, through efforts of two programs, the Backpack Program and the Village Fund.
Samantha Cowens-Gasbarro, RSU#14 Chef and Nutrition Coordinator and Marge Govoni, School Board Member and Coordinator of both programs, are working together to help serve the students in need. “Research indicates that children who grow up in food insecure households often lag behind in terms of cognitive, emotional, and physical development,” explained Cowens-Gasbarro. “We want to help those students succeed.”

The Backpack Program began in the 2011-12 school year and is specific for the elementary school children. It provides foods to supplement children in need over the weekends and school vacations during the school year. “This program was previously funded by donations from Hannaford’s and members of the community,” explained Govoni. “A few years ago the donations from Hannaford’s ended. In order to continue to serve 150 children each weekend during the school year, we need more members of the community to support our program. We are reaching out to local businesses asking for additional sponsors to this program.” Our major contributor presently is Windham Weaponry and their employees.

When the program began six years ago, it provided meals for approximately 50 students. This has increased in number, with 150 elementary students from both Windham and Raymond schools being served.
The Backpacks contain a breakfast, lunch and dinner options as well as snacks. They are discreetly distributed to the students by teachers or staff in each school and are packed every Tuesday by volunteers at either Windham Middle School or Windham Primary School. Only monetary donations are accepted to ensure the nutritional items and menus are similarly based and meet the needs of the child. 

The Village Fund Program is a program specifically geared to the high school students. Beginning as a grant for food insecure students that could not afford to buy lunch, the program became the Village Fund in 2015. “In the past, high school staff members have given their own money to help students, who are food insecure, buy lunch,” stated Govoni. “We are hoping to take the financial burden off of the staff by raising money to put towards this fund.”
Govoni and Cowens-Gasbarro explained that by raising $2,000 for this upcoming school year, the program could provide 665 meals to students in need throughout the school year.

“A small donation would go a long way in this Village Fund considering each school lunch costs only $3.00 for a complete meal that includes main entrĂ©e, fruit, vegetable and milk,” stated Cowens-Gasbarro. 

One hundred percent of the donations go toward both programs and no administrative cost or fees are applied.

There is a quote that states, “Small acts, when multiplied by a number of people, transform the world.” Help transform the lives of the RSU#14 students whose lives can be made a little easier with a nutritional meal that is not always available to them. Govoni said “We cannot make these programs work without the help of our very generous businesses, organizations and residents of Windham and Raymond. We are very grateful and cannot thank those who have contributed monetary donations or volunteer their time to help make these programs successful.” 

If you would like more information on one or both of these programs, contact Cowens-Gasbarro at or Marge Govoni at Cowens-Gasbarro can be reached by phone at 892-1800, ext. 2029 and Govoni at 892-7192. make a donation, ensuring that the food insecure children of the Windham and Raymond communities are nourished and well fed, mail check or money order noting which program you are donating too, to the following address: School Nutrition Program, Attn: Samantha Cowens- Gasbarro, 228 Windham Center Road, Windham,04062.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your Comments Help Improve Your Community.