People may wonder, who is that masked woman handing out bag lunches each weekend at Boothbay Region YMCA? Her name is Stephanie Tucker and she is responsible for distributing nearly three dozen lunches on Saturdays and Sundays for the past three weeks. Each weekend, she dons gloves and a surgical mask and lathers up her hands with plenty of hand sanitizer as the point person in BRYMCA’s weekend meal distribution program in conjunction with the Community School District. The meals are free to students under age 18.
Tucker’s regular job is the local Y’s project manager in development. She began distributing weekend meals for students last fall as part of a YMCA program for needy families. But when the coronavirus resulted in closing down local schools last month, BRYMCA and the CSD began collaborating on an expanded weekend nutrition program. The hybrid program is available to all Boothbay region public school students from 11:30 a.m to 12:30 p.m. in the Y’s parking lot.
Two weeks ago, Tucker began by handing out 15 meals each Saturday and Sunday. Last week, bag lunches, which include a peanut and jelly sandwich, apple, assorted fruits, cheese sticks and a fruit cup, numbered int the thirties, and for the first weekend in April, Trucker expects to hand out almost 40 bags. “It’s growing every week. The weather is getting better so more people may begin showing up,” Tucker said.
The CSD supplies food for the weekend meal program. BRYMCA staff assemble the bag lunches each Friday night. Even though the program is designed as a two-day program, Tucker does make concessions to reduce unnecessary personal contact. “On Saturdays if they ask for an additional lunch, they can take a second bag so they don’t have to come back,” she said.
The original BRYMCA program began in November with Tucker directing. The Hallowell native began distributing meals inside BRYMCA. “I loved the program as soon as it began. It started inside and now it has expanded outside so we can better provide assistance to more local families. The program is doing well and we’re real excited about receiving a $10,000 Harvard Pilgram Grant for our nutrition program.”
As better weather approaches and coronavirus continues, Tucker expects more families to use the local weekend nutrition program.