Friday, June 26, 2020

Raymond will continue to offer free food to students, families during summer months

By Lorraine Glowczak

Although recent changes to the USDA’s eligibility requirements helped solve RSU14’s challenge in providing summer meals for students who are experiencing food insecurity, the Raymond community is still moving forward with their initiative to provide grocery item for students and their families this summer, no questions asked.

Until the waiver of federal eligibility requirements were extended about two weeks ago, not one of the RSU14 school sites were eligible to provide free meals for all students, since they do not meet the benchmark of over 50 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced meals.

Raymond Community Community Organizers prepare bags of
non-perishable and fresh food items to be given out Tuesdays
from 1 to 3:30 p.m. (until further notice) at Jordan-Small
“As soon as we discovered students in Raymond would not have access to food this summer, I knew we had to do something,” said Teresa Sadak, one of the organizers of the initiative and a Raymond Town Select Board Member. “I was determined that we would find the funds and figure it out.”

Although Windham and Raymond students will have the opportunity to pick up nutritious meals four days a week  – the Raymond Food Committee organizers decided to move forward with their original plan and provide weekly grocery items for all Raymond families with children in order to fill in the gap of making sure adults have access to food too.

The initial plan was to hand out food every Tuesday from 1 to 3:30 pm (and will do so until further notice), but with the recent development with the RSU, Raymond is working to figure out the best way to proceed with providing non-perishable and fresh food items at Jordan Small Middle School’s cafeteria, located at 423 Webbs Mills Road. Either way, grocery items will continue to be distributed through-out the summer months until the start of the school year next fall. Until a set date and time has been established it is encouraged to email the organizers at on a weekly basis.

“The goal is to reach as many families as possible,” said Raymond Community Communications Coordinator, Kaela Gonzalez. “We want to make sure all of our families are fed so we are trying to find the best time to accommodate people’s schedules. It is also important to note this program is confidential and open to any family that needs help with food.\ No paperwork needed - just show up and we will hand you a bag of food.”

The types of food to be offered varies from week to week but examples include kid friendly foods such as: granola bars, goldfish and fruit snacks, cereal, fresh fruits and veggies, pasta and sauce, peanut butter, crackers, English muffins and much more.

“For the first couple of weeks, we have planned to serve 35 families,” Sadak said. “It will be on a first come/first serve basis, but we are determined to not let any child or family go hungry and if we discover we need to provide for more families - we will find a way to serve everyone.”

One solution the committee, which consists of Sadak and Gonzalez, Rep. Jess Fay and Deputy Chief of Emergency Services and Health Officer, Cathy Gosselin and other volunteers, is requesting feedback from families to help the committee plan and prepare for each week.

“If people could email us at to let us know the following questions, that would be very helpful,” Gosselin said.

Those questions are: Do you want to receive food this summer? What is the best time for you to pick up- afternoon or evening? Do you need the food dropped off at your home? How many in your family?

Once the committee has received feedback from the community, they will decide whether it makes the most sense to hand out additional food during the RSU pick up times or also offer evening hours for families that are not able to pick up food during the day.

Due to recent circumstances, many families have met with some financial challenges.

“Some folks have not been able to access unemployment benefits as a result of recent layoffs due to COVID-19,” Rep. Fay said. “As a result, it has affected some families’ ability to feed their children, pay the mortgage and pay other bills. I’m concerned about how they can feed their family, and this is a great solution.”

If you want to support this program, please visit or the Town of Raymond’s Facebook page, for more information.

There are heroes everywhere and they certainly exist in Raymond.

“This is typical of the Raymond community – coming together and supporting one another in times of need,” Raymond Town Manager, Don Willard said. <

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