Youth organization expands efforts to provide meals on weekends

To meet the needs of residents of Waldo County caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, The Game Loft has increased its food program.

BELFAST, Maine – “The Game Loft” in Belfast was established 23 years ago as an after-school program for children and adolescents in Waldo County. It’s a place where kids can learn more through mentoring and non-electronic games, but those programs are on hold due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“In the past, children have come to see us, and when the pandemic hit, we realized we had to go to them,” says Patricia Estabrook, co-director of Game Loft.

The Game Loft has found ways to stay in touch with members of its community and is currently preparing freshly cooked meals seven days a week. Residents of Waldo County can stop at its location on 78A Main Street Belfast, and now the organization offers a home delivery service on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to residents of Waldo County who cannot make it to Belfast city center on weekdays but would benefit from a meal delivery the weekend.

“To make sure that none of our neighbors are hungry, none of our neighbors are isolated, none of our neighbors are in danger,” adds Estabrook. “We also started doing our programs electronically.”

This new weekend program is mainly thanks to a grant “Federal Emergency Management Agency” or “FEMA”. The Good Shepherd Food Bank, United Way of Eastern Maine, The Soap Closet in Belfast, the Belfast Free Library and other organizations have stepped up and contributed to The Game Loft’s efforts to keep its community connected and less isolated.

“It’s harder to reach families further in Waldo County who can’t, maybe they don’t have a car, maybe they can’t afford gasoline to come to town every day, and they really needed help, ”says Anne. Wisdom, cook at the Game Loft.

All meals are free and meet USDA standards for a balanced diet.

“You just have to stay in touch and let kids feel like they’re still part of something and that they’re still a part of something,” says Thelma Howard, Game Loft volunteer. “These bags have a certain thoughtfulness and there is a bit of that personal touch that goes with it and that is felt by the kids there.”

Besides meals, households also received a bag containing items such as soaps, toothbrushes, toothpaste, fresh produce, health products, puzzles, books and socks. According to Howard, a personal touch is what makes these bags extra special.

“It makes a difference that they are more connected, that they are healthier, that they see us and that they realize that we don’t give up on them just because we can’t be together. », Explains Estabrook.

Sawyer Collins and his mother Nicole Lazure are just a few of the families benefiting from the new home delivery program.

“They make a huge difference, beyond just having a really good meal, as a single mom it’s kinda nice to have one day off a week and rely on the program,” he said. declared Lazure. “He [Sawyer] is at home alone during the week, so having a little social engagement on the weekends was really beneficial. “

“You can tell it’s personalized because I have books that interest me and it’s not just a fluke! Said Sawyer Collins.

Estabrook told NEWS CENTER Maine they have resources to help anyone who needs help during these difficult times: “In times of non-pandemic we only serve children, now we serve entire families, s ‘there are families in need, we want to make sure they are served. “

“The hunger never stops, the need for connection never stops and we are available and ready and happily able to reach out to our neighbors,” says Estabrook.

Contact The play loft and inquire about weekly or weekend meal plans, you can call (207) 338-6447.