Mountain Valley High School Mental Wellness Coordinator Kasey Flagg, left, and school nurse Serena Flagg stand outside the Falcon Food Stop pantry Jan. 9 at the Rumford school. The pantry is stocked with nonperishable foods, juice drinks, snacks and cooking supplies for students to take home on weekends and holiday breaks. Submitted photo

RUMFORD — A food pantry at Mountain Valley High School is meeting needs for homeless and hungry students, organizers say, and another at the middle school in Mexico is expecting its first delivery in the next few weeks.

The Falcon Food Stop is stocked with nonperishable foods, juice drinks, snacks, flour and oil for cooking at home, and hygiene items, the latter donated by school staff.

It opened just before Regional School Unit 10’s holiday break in December, Kasey Flagg, the school’s mental wellness coordinator, said.

She and high school nurse Serena Flagg have been organizing and setting up the pantry since the start of the school year when they applied for donations from Good Shepherd Food Bank. On Jan. 25, they met with Mountain Valley Middle School nurse Caitlin Beardsley and social emotional learning teacher Amber Durant, who are heading up that school’s food pantry.

The Falcon Food Stop at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford is stocked with nonperishable foods for homeless and hungry students to take home on weekends and holiday breaks. Personal hygiene products and other goods have been donated by community members and local businesses. Submitted photo

As the high school’s mental wellness coordinator, Flagg said she realized the need at the beginning of the school year when a homeless student came to her asking for toilet paper.

Nurse Serena Flagg also heard from students who said they were hungry and needed food, especially on weekends and holiday breaks. She submitted an application to Good Shepherd Food Bank for donations and received an affirmative response this year.


“We did an application in October,” she said, because both schools meet the requirement of having at least 70% of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

There are close to 400 students at the high school and 386 at the middle school, she said.

“Anyone can access the pantry,” Kasey said.

“I’m super excited to help get (the pantry) rolling and be part of it,” Durant said. “I had a conversation today with a student who said she doesn’t like school lunches but there is not enough food in her house to take food to school.”

Beardsley said she noticed when River Valley Rising, a nonprofit organization that promotes healthy lifestyles for families in the area, donated bags of nonperishable items to the school a few times last year about a dozen students took bags home. The need has grown this year, she said, estimating about 26 students brought food home for weekends and holiday breaks.

The Falcon Food Stop also received items and money from area businesses such as Franklin Savings Bank and Oxford Federal Credit Union, and community members.


The women said students, teachers and David Lamarque, head custodian at the high school, have helped stock shelves, pack bags and make deliveries.

Durant sees a connection between the social emotional learning curriculum and the schools’ pantries.

“Within our … curriculum and kind of what we’re promoting with our social emotional learning is community, so that’s kind of part of the rounding it all out,” she said. “What a great opportunity to pull in our students and have them be part of giving back to the community. What a great way to let that kind of (giving) naturally be a part of a routine at school.”

For more information about donating to the pantries or receiving from them, email Kasey Flagg at [email protected].

Four staff members from Mountain Valley high and middle schools meet Jan. 25 at the middle school in Mexico to discuss the upcoming opening of a food pantry there. From left are middle school social emotional learning teacher Amber Durant, middle school nurse Caitlin Beardsley, high school Mental Wellness Coordinator Kasey Flagg and high school nurse Serena Flagg. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.