Regional School Unit 71 will be handing out 200 boxes containing five holiday breakfasts and lunches to families during pickup Dec. 22 at Troy Howard Middle School from 11 a.m. to noon and at Capt. Albert W Stevens School from noon to 1 p.m.

Fifty families have already reserved boxes, but they are available to any child under 18 in need in the school district, Director of Nutrition Perley Martin said. The meals all meet school food service requirements.

“Our job as food professionals is to feed the kids,” he said. “… So, what we’re doing is, during the holidays we’re preparing five breakfasts and five lunches for students.”

Families should eat the pre-cooked meals within five days of receiving them, he said. It is part of the schools' initiative to keep kids fed during breaks and vacations. School breakfasts and lunches have been free to all students this year.

Twelve volunteers, some of whom were school faculty donating their time, packaged the 200 boxes in less than an hour Dec. 21, Martin said.

Staff cooked 190 pounds of turkey and Martin made homemade gravy that went into each meal, he said. “This isn’t Stouffer's, this is the real thing,” he said. Breakfasts consist of five packages of assorted cereals, fruit, juice and milk.

He expects not to have any boxes left over and will distribute them during CASS and THMS pickup times so families can efficiently access them, he said. Students in Waldo County schools have long had a greater financial need for school meals than the state average, with 54% of county students qualifying for reduced or free lunch in previous school years.

Parents have expressed gratitude to the district for providing meals to students during breaks, Martin said. He wants to continue to provide meals for students during February and April vacations. He hopes it helps families this school year, while unemployment is so high because of the coronavirus.

“It’s really rewarding to me to have the parents take the time and thank us for this,” he said.

For more information or to reserve a box, contact Martin at pmartin@rsu71.org.