Published Online: July 7, 2014

Maine aims to provide more students with food

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine lawmakers are wrestling with how to get nutritious, affordable food in the hands of more low-income students.

A task force including lawmakers, advocates and school officials that's seeking to develop a multi-year plan aimed at reducing hunger among students held its first meeting Monday.

An estimated 83,000 Maine students qualify for free- and reduced-price meals in Maine, but advocates say the federally funded programs are underutilized.

The Maine Hunger Initiative at Preble Street estimates that only 52 percent of students who qualify receive breakfast at school, while 18 percent get meals in the summer.

The panel pointed to several challenges in getting schools and students to participate in the programs, including a lack of transportation and the stigma students may feel in needing a free or reduced price lunch.

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