Nobleboro Central School fifth-grader Emily Tibbetts and her Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine “big sister,” Maya Bailey, a senior at Lincoln Academy, learned that good friends and good food go hand in hand. Since the fall of 2015, Emily and Maya have spent Monday afternoons together as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine after-school mentoring program. In December, they had a chance to learn side-by-side about preparing nutritious, locally grown foods.
This past fall, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine partnered with FARMS (Focus on Agriculture in Rural Maine Schools) to bring three, hands-on cooking, nutrition education and food-tasting events to its after-school mentoring program at Nobleboro Central School. Nine high school mentors from Lincoln Academy and their “little brothers” and “little sisters” worked with staff from FARMS and Rising Tide Community Market in Damariscotta to learn about growing, preparing, and enjoying locally grown healthy foods.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine is committed to nurturing children and helping them find success through professionally supported mentoring programs that change their lives for the better and strengthen communities,” said Lisa Wilson, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine school-based manager. “Partnering with local programs like FARMS is a unique opportunity to further help kids realize their full potential.”
By working with FARMS and Rising Tide Community Market, both of which are committed to promoting healthier choices and building connections within the community, the agency is able to offer more learning and growing opportunities to children, cost free. Big Brothers Big Sisters does not charge fees to any children or families who participate in the mentoring programs. Both partnering organizations donated staff time and food ingredients to help make the event possible.
Leslie Wicks, farm-to-school educator for the FARMS program, along with Anna DiGloria, Rising Tide’s outreach and education coordinator, facilitated the program, providing locally grown vegetables and recipes the students followed to prepare a food-tasting menu they enjoyed together at the end of the session. The students prepared sauteed kale, roasted beets with a citrus dressing, and butternut squash. When they were done, matches had a chance to sit down together and enjoy what they had prepared.
“We share a mission to reach out to youth and the community,” DiGloria said. “We want to bring education and excitement about locally grown, nutritious food and empower students to make healthy choices.”
As part of the experience, matches prepared extra dishes that were then shared with a local food pantry supported by FARMS. “It was a great opportunity for kids to help their community while having an educational and fun experience,” Wilson said.
The Nobleboro mentoring program participants will enjoy two more FARMS-sponsored learning and cooking events this winter and spring.
For more information about enrolling a child or becoming a volunteer or mentor at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine, call 236-BBBS (2227) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Big Brothers Big Sisters changes the lives of 700 children facing adversity in Androscoggin, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Penobscot, Somerset, and Waldo counties for the better, forever, by providing strong and enduring professionally supported one-to-one relationships. By partnering with parents, volunteers, and organizations, children in the program have higher aspirations, greater confidence, and better relationships, and avoid risky behaviors and achieve educational success.