Lincoln Academy Chef Mikael Andersson serving lunch in the school’s new tiffin containers on the first day of orientation. Thanks to the extension of a federal food program, school breakfast and lunch will be free for all LA day students until the end of the 2020 calendar year.

Last week Lincoln Academy announced that there will be no charge for student breakfast and lunch through the end of December, 2020. Usually LA meals cost $2.50 for breakfast and $3.50 for lunch, and these fees are waived for students who qualify for federal free and reduced lunch. This year, thanks to an extension of the Summer Food Program, the school is able to provide free lunch for every student through the end of the calendar year.

Chef Mikael Andersson

Lincoln Academy Chef Mikael Andersson

LA Chef Mikael Andersson submitted the application to continue federal funding. “In March when the pandemic became widespread, the national lunch program was not efficient or flexible enough to fund food deliveries for all students,” said Andersson. “In order to make it possible for schools to deliver food to students at home during quarantine, the federal government opened the summer food program in March instead of May. That was the program we operated under when we delivered food all spring.”

Andersson said that the school gets reimbursed for every meal they serve “as long as we have a paper trail to account for all the meals we serve.”

This food relief for school children has been extended several times, according to Andersson. “It started in March, was extended to April, then to the end of May, then to July. We stopped delivering food in the end of June in order to take a summer break, but some schools did run lunch programs through the summer.”

In early September the government announced that funding would be extended through December 31. Andersson, with the help of LA CFO Wendy Corlett, completed the paperwork and was approved to offer free breakfast and lunch for all day students, regardless of whether they qualify for free or reduced lunch through the federal program. The funding covers meals on both in-person days and at-home days. Students can pick up food at the end of the day when they are on campus to take home for the days they are studying virtually. Students who have chosen fully remote learning can come to campus at 2 pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and pick up meals for the following 2-3 days.

“The state has been excellent to work with. They care as much as I do that students get food. There is so much food insecurity for the state of Maine, and the people at the state level have worked tirelessly to get these programs in place. They are rock stars in my mind.”

“We are so glad to be able to offer food to our community and thankful that the funding has been extended,” said Head of School Jeff Burroughs. “There is so much uncertainty in the daily routines of our students and families, we are just glad to be able to offer the security of a meal.”

Parents responded with surprise and gratitude when the free meal program was announced last week at a virtual meeting of the Lincoln Academy Parent Association (LAPA). “This program will make a huge impact in reducing stress and worry for families,” said Allison Eddyblouin, a parent leader of LAPA and mother of an LA sophomore. “One less moment of anxiety. Am I needy enough to deserve free lunch? Did I pay into the meal payment site? Do I have enough money for my student to buy lunch? Even for families not strained financially, everyone is stretched trying to adjust to the new normal. Chef Mikael has such a big heart for feeding the LA students. Now parents can relax a little bit because he is implementing this program with such generosity.”

As for Andersson, the funding program takes a load off of his mind as well. “Now I don’t have to worry that students will go hungry. We know that for some of our students, the meals they get here are the only meals they get. Now I can feed everyone.”