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Maine Food Deliveries

posted Mar 8, 2021, 8:51 AM by Vincent Vanier
Melanie Lagasse, Food Service Director at Valley Unified Education Service Center (MSAD 27, MSAD 33 and Madawaska School Department) identified a potential challenge and instinctively knew what to do. Schools were virtual, students and adults were stuck inside as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and people were becoming increasingly hungry.
In response to this crisis, Lagasse and her small army of kitchen staff and volunteers, school bus drivers, Ed Techs and a new partner, ModivCare (formerly LogistiCare), went to work.
Lagasse’s initial efforts, that first began in March 2020 and ran through August, resulted in over 262,000 meals delivered via school bus. When the food program began, everyone in the school staff at Fort Kent Community High School chipped in, turning out an initial 2,040 meals in about two hours.
Realizing she needed more help on the delivery side, Melanie was introduced to ModivCare by Full Plates Full Potential and reached out to the transportation company in order to supplement meal deliveries from December 2020 through February 2021.
ModivCare has provided non-emergency medical transportation in several regions of the state including Aroostook County, the largest American county by land east of the Mississippi since 2013. Since the inception of its contract, ModivCare has developed a network of transportation providers aligned with the unique needs of Maine residents. Given the rural geography of the state, many residents rely on medical providers that are miles from their homes and with limited transportation options – this network can often serve as a lifeline for Medicaid members.
“We couldn’t be more appreciative of ModivCare’s help in providing such reliable and friendly help,” said Lagasse. “Two of ModivCare’s woman-owned transportation providers, Town Taxi and L&L Transportation, jumped in to help out delivering meals to families across Aroostook County with smiles and a can-do attitude.”
At times, the transportation providers traveled more than 60 miles to pick up food. Once the transportation providers received delivery instructions, off they went – delivering two days’ worth of meals to 60-100 homes, where they placed food into coolers and containers outside the families’ doors.
The delivery teams dropped off 40 meals, three times a week to students in the area served by Dr. Levesque Elementary School in Frenchville and 60 meals, three times a week in the area served by Fort Kent Community High School. Each drop consisted of breakfast and lunch meals per child in each household.
“This was an all-out team effort on both the cooking and delivery sides,” said Lagasse. “I asked our stellar kitchen staff for their input as I created the menus thus preparing a wide variety of foods to heat and serve including lasagna, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, turkey dinners, garlic pork, fried rice and more,” she added. “Our goal was to make and deliver nutritious meals we knew our students were used to getting when they were in the school building. We delivered hot meals and something to be heated as well as breakfast, enough food for two days at a time.”
The school district’s efforts received a Gold award from Let’s Go! 5210 for Healthy Kids for all six schools in our district for best practice in the kitchen and cafeteria prior to the initial school closing.
“We are laser-focused on driving positive outcomes by transforming how we connect Mainers to care, particularly during these challenging times,” said Daniel Greenleaf, President and CEO of ModivCare. “The school food delivery initiative has offered us the privilege of expanding beyond our traditional role of non-emergency medical transportation to extend a helping hand in the community that we are so proud to serve.”