LA staff members packed and delivered more than 60 bags of food for school families on Wednesday, March 18.

When LA social workers Tory Wright and Lisa Katz realized that the COVID-19 pandemic would likely cause schools to shut down, their first thought was for the LA families who would suffer from food insecurity.

“Food insecurity is a constant issue for many families, and the school shutdown means the loss of two meals, five days a week for students,” said Wright. “This is a big burden on many homes, especially as families lose working hours.”

The two put together a plan that cobbled together food donations from LA staff with money from the school’s “Sunshine Fund,” which is supported by faculty donations and school fundraisers. This fund is dedicated to helping LA families meet needs as diverse as weekend food, a winter coat, gas card, or tank of heating oil. Wright stopped at multiple grocery stores to fill the 60 bags with food, as shelves were largely already emptied out of non-perishable items such as cereal, pasta, and peanut butter.

Wright and Katz spent Sunday and Monday after the school closure was announced contacting families they suspected could use support to identify needs and confirm addresses. On Tuesday, staff members packed 60 bags of groceries, and on Wednesday morning three vans traveled to homes from Damariscotta to Jefferson and St. George to drop off the bags.

“We wanted to get food out there as soon as possible to support students and families,” said Laurie Zimmerli, LA’s Director of Special Services. “This whole process of calling families, confirming where kids are staying during the shutdown, and checking in with kids gave us a chance to make contact, which was important to many students, even before we brought the food.”

Beginning on Monday, March 23, LA will distribute food to families who need it through the Dining Services program, headed by chef Mikael Andersson, but those details are still being worked out. “Going forward, LA students and other community members will have the opportunity to receive breakfast and lunch food three days a week,” a distribution that will be supported with funds from the federal free and reduced lunch program as well as local donations, according to Andersson. More details about the ongoing delivery program will be available in the coming days.

“The LA community has come together so many ways around this crisis,” said Head of School Jeff Burroughs. “Even before we knew our exact plans for closing campus, social workers and other staff came together to help students in need. This first delivery was especially important because it allowed us to check in with families and make sure they have what they need for the weeks ahead. By next week our regular food delivery will be running through our dining services, but this effort by Tory, Lisa, and others filled an important gap.”

If your family or someone you know needs help with food during this time of social distancing, please contact Carole Brinkler at Lincoln Academy at 207-563-3596 ext. 102 or brinkler@lincolnacademy.org.