Franklin Countys First News

OTIS Federal Credit Union supports local school lunches

From left to right: Sarah Hayes, Director of Marketing and Communications; Caitlin Lake, Loan Officer; Kim Turner, President/CEO; Jasmine Merrill, Member Specialist.

JAY - OTIS Federal Credit Union will kick off a new initiative aimed at combating hunger locally.

A Christmas tree, to be displayed in the Credit Union’s teller area, will be decorated with angel ornaments: Each angel will bear the mascot of one of six school districts on its front, and a dollar amount on its back. Individuals will be able to choose an angel representing RSU 9, RSU 38, RSU 73, RSU 78, MSAD 52, or MSAD 58, and will have the option of sponsoring a child’s lunch for one day, one week, two weeks, or four weeks. On December 31, the Credit Union will disburse checks for the total amount donated to each of the six school districts’ lunch programs. Funds will be used to help pay down student lunch debts within the districts.

The idea was conceived when Sarah Hayes, Director of Marketing and Communications at OTIS FCU, and Kim Turner, President/CEO of OTIS FCU, visited Spruce Mountain High School for a photo with Food Service Director Laura Lorette following a $200 donation made to RSU 73’s lunch program. As the they discussed how the donation would be used in the district, Hayes and Turner asked to be kept abreast of any further opportunities to help. When the idea of decorating an “angel tree” with ornaments bearing lunch prices was raised in conversation, the three immediately sprang into action. Lorette proposed the idea at a School Board meeting later that evening, where it was unanimously approved. In short order, the remaining five school districts within the Credit Union’s field of membership were contacted, and all agreed to participate. While logistics were being hammered out, a committee of employees at OTIS got to work creating the ornaments and readying the tree.

“A student who is hungry has a harder time focusing on learning,” remarked Lorette. “Nutritious foods provide kids the energy to excel in and out of school. RSU 73 provides a nutritionally-balanced breakfast for free to each student, and low-cost or free lunches to students each school day. Unfortunately, one in five children in Maine still struggles with hunger, and many households that experience food insecurity do not qualify for public assistance. We are very pleased to participate in this program, and our goal is to reach as many students as we can.”

“We are so excited to be able to do this for the school districts within our field of membership. Food insecurity, particularly within schools, is very real and during this time of giving, we feel that this is a great opportunity to help children that may not have the means to pay for their lunches,” Turner said.

“When we recently made the $200 lunch program donations to these districts to commemorate International Credit Union Day, we were met with so much gratitude—and also confronted with the true magnitude of the lunch debt issue. We really felt called, as an organization, to do more, and we are thrilled to be kicking off this new initiative this year. The holidays are traditionally a time of giving and of spreading joy. What better way to capture the spirit of the season than to serve as a conduit for giving within our own community?" Hayes added.

Credit union members, as well as members of the wider community, are invited to donate. The Credit Union is located at 170 Main Street in Jay.

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2 Responses »

  1. You start off by saying we can purchase different quantities of meals for a child.
    Then you say the funds will be used to pay down the debts.
    Well which is it? To me that’s two different things.

  2. Becky, Maine recently passed a resolution that no kid goes home from school hungry, but the state doesn't pay for the food, something about USDA subsidies and not paying for the food twice, anyway, the school cook staff sits down and makes a menu based on the number of servings to the number of students in the school, then the meal is broken down into cost and some of that cost is passed onto the students then to parents, the school has already paid the food suppliers, and school has been in session for 3 months and has given out 12 weeks worth of meals, that is the back debt, that's what the $200 from Otis is going towards, the angel tree is for donations for future meals. Little clearer?