Medomak Middle School’s Community Market helps area families combat food insecurity by sending food home with students at the end of the week.
Student volunteers run the program. FoodCorps helped set up the program at the beginning of the school year with assistance from Good Shepherd Food Bank, of Auburn, and local organizations.
According to FoodCorps Service Member Jared Grenier, at the end of the day on Friday, students can come down to the Community Market, on the ground level of the middle school, and pick up food for the weekend.
“The Community Market is a place where students and families can come and receive food,” Grenier said.
Grenier said students pack bags with food to bring home.
The Community Market is completely run by student volunteers and supported by community members, according to Grenier.
“Having students working in the Community Market is essential. It wouldn’t run without them,” he said.
Grenier said the Community Market stages taste tests, introducing students to new recipes to try out at home, and brings classrooms to the Community Market to introduce the program to students.
“The recipes and taste tests give students an idea on how to prepare the food they get at the Community Market when they are home,” Grenier said.
Grenier works with Sarah Skovran, a registered dietitian and director of the Child Hunger Program at Rockland’s Area Interfaith Outreach Food Pantry, to provide weekend food to students in need.
Skovran said she works mostly in Knox County, but helps at Waldoboro’s three public schools because Waldoboro belongs to RSU 40 with four Knox County towns.
“We partner with Good Shepherd Food Bank and use donations or grant dollars to provide food,” Skovran said.
Skovran said combating childhood hunger is an integral part of educating young students.
“I used to be a teacher. I know what it means when a child is hungry and how difficult that is for them,” Skovran said.
The Medomak Middle School students who run the program include seventh graders Angel Grierson and Lillian Peirce, who help at the Community Market a few times a week during sixth period, the last of the school day.
Grierson said the student volunteers help organize food when new shipments come in.
Peirce said they work to prepare the Community Market for their peers.
“We stock shelves and do inventory, help to pack bags, make sure the food is good, and check expiration dates,” Peirce said.
Grierson said that while volunteering, she has tried some of the recipes at the Community Market, and one of her favorites was hand-cut fries.
Both students said they got involved in the food pantry because it helps other students.
The student volunteers also assist by drawing signs for display in the Community Market, according to Grierson and Peirce.
Grenier said the Community Market helps 15-20 students a week. The plan is to keep it running during the summer to continue to aid those in need.
Grenier said the Community Market offers local produce, when available, and healthy options, including apples, fennel, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta.
Skovran said by bringing food home, students get to pitch in and help their parents and siblings.
“Students are able to contribute food to the household. It is something they feel good about,” Skovran said.