On Wednesday, August 9, Aroostook County Action Program staff and volunteers visited with children in Presque Isle as part of their sponsorship of United Way of Aroostook and TAMC’s Summer Gap Feeding Program, designed to provide nutritious foods for children who are not yet back in school.

United Way

Pllanning for ACAP’s day of Summer Gap Feeding Program sponsorship began months ago with an internal agency effort spearheaded by ACAP Case Manager and Licensed Social Worker Heidi Rackliffe. Rackliffe heard about the Summer Gap Feeding Program on the local news and knew she wanted to help, it didn’t take much to convince others at ACAP to embrace the idea.

“I wanted to take an active role in helping with this great project, knowing that the large portion of the children being served could be ACAP clients in one way or another,” said Rackliffe. “It seemed like a natural partnership and activity that works directly with the mission and vision of our agency.”

The cost for sponsoring a day of feeding local children was $500 ($2.50 per child) and so Rackliffe came up with an idea to raise that money by tapping into the generous spirits of ACAP staff. First, she enlisted Job Counselor Kathy Williams’ help. They took her idea to Executive Director Jason Parent and then presented it to the Employee Engagement Committee at ACAP, finding everyone eager to participate. Rackliffe’s idea was to have staff sponsor paper cutout “Little People” that they could then decorate and display in ACAP centers. The cost of sponsorship for one cutout person was $2.50, the exact cost of sponsoring a meal for one child.

As employees purchased the cutouts and decorated them, they set up displays at ACAP’s main office in Presque Isle and at both Gouldville and Caribou’s Early Care and Education Centers.

In fact, employees enjoyed the project, and the cause, so much that they exceeded the original $500 goal, also contributing money they raised as a group on Casual Fun’D days in the office, where employees can dress down for $1 on Wednesdays. Even the community decided to support the Summer Gap Feeding Program when parents at the Gouldville Center decided to donate proceeds from a community art night where they sold children’s artwork and craft projects. Altogether, ACAP employees raised $745 and Gouldville supporters added an additional $178.

On Aug. 9, seven ACAP volunteers assisted with food preparation at Presque Isle Recreation and Parks, and then served lunch at satellite locations throughout Presque Isle, including on Birch Street, Carmichael Street and at Helen Noreen. The Summer Gap Feeding Program also offers meals at the Mapleton Recreation Department. In addition to offering food, volunteers also gave away bubbles and pencils to the kids and had activities for them to do when they came to pick up their lunches.

ACAP works regularly in partnership with United Way and TAMC, and those collaborations benefit the communities in which those partner agencies serve. ACAP served a total of 170 meals to children on their day. Those meals consisted of a choice of sandwiches, water, fruits, and snacks.

The Summer Gap Feeding Program continues through September 1.