JAY — On Saturday, Stacy Greenleaf saw national and state children hunger statistics and wondered what she could do to help. Monday afternoon, she began offering free ‘grab-n-go’ bag meals for anyone who needed one.
Greenleaf began her first University of Maine at Augusta college course, Introduction to Human Services, four weeks ago. For that class, she watched a video Saturday on childhood hunger. She learned one out of every five children in the United States goes to bed hungry. The figures are the same Maine.
“It blew my mind. It’s absurd,” Greenleaf said Tuesday afternoon. “I was very emotional, wondering what I could do. By Sunday, I had a plan. Monday there was food on my porch.”
She did not want to duplicate existing programs. She chose evening meals because that is a gap she could help fill. The meals are ready to eat, making them ideal for children, many lacking life skills or access to cooking equipment.
The bag meals will be in a cooler from 3 to 7 p.m. daily, barring an emergency, on the porch of her 7 Maple St. home.
She posted Monday on Facebook about the Free Kids Meals program. Her post has had 700 shares so far.
Greenleaf said it took her 20 minutes to make the first six bag meals. Each bag contains a sandwich on whole-grain bread, a vegetable, fruit, chips, pretzels or popcorn, a juice and a treat.
“I hope I have to run in the house and make more,” Greenleaf said.
She said lots of people have reached out to her to donate food and coolers. She would like to have the bag meals available at several sites, and perhaps provide transportation in the future.
Greenleaf is planning a separate Facebook page, Free Kids Meals, to share updates and program needs.
She has reached out to the local schools and hopes to collaborate with other efforts locally.
Greenleaf said part of her motivation is in her having become a single mom with six children.
“I had an outpouring of support,” she said. “Without it, we would have experienced hunger. So many people lack support.
“No one should be hungry. I want to feed so many people I need another building.”
For more information or to help, call Greenleaf at 491-8309.
After seeing a video on childhood hunger statistics, Stacy Greenleaf, a single mom from Jay, took action. Free, ready-to-eat, grab ‘n’ go bag meals will be available at her 7 Maple St. home from 3 to 7 p.m. daily. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)
Stacy Greenleaf of 7 Maple St. in Jay is providing free bag meals daily from 3 to 7 p.m. to anyone needing one. Pictured are examples of what she includes in each bag. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)
This colorful sign at 7 Maple St. in Jay promotes the free meals available for anyone in need from 3 to 7 p.m. daily. After learning that one in five Maine children goes to bed hungry, single mom Stacy Greenleaf has decided to do something to help. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)