Knox County’s rate of childhood food insecurity is projected to increase by 52%

Molly O’Rourke hired as Weekend Meal Program Manager at AIO

Fri, 07/17/2020 - 2:30pm

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AIO Food and Energy Assistance
Rockland  Maine
United States

ROCKLAND —  Molly O’Rourke has been hired as the new Weekend Meal Program Manager at AIO Food and Energy Assistance. The role is essential to ensuring that families with children have sufficient food during the weekend, when there is no access to food provided through the school systems, according to AIO, in a news release.

Feeding America (using the Map the Meal Gap model) and Good Shepherd Food Bank recently announced that the statewide rates of hunger are projected to grow by as much as 40% in 2020, according to AIO. Knox County has the 4th highest rates in the state, with food insecurity projected to increase 46% overall. Knox County’s rate of childhood food insecurity is projected to increase by 52% – one in four kids will experience hunger.

The time is now for AIO, and the community, to invest in resources which can best support the health and well-being of our Knox County children, according to AIO.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Molly join AIO at this critical time,” said Liz Jenkins, AIO Board President. “AIO’s mission to address food and energy insecurity are at an all-time high priority as we prepare for the impact of COVID-19 in the region. Molly’s commitment to our community and fighting food insecurity, along with her creativity and many talents will bring new life to the program. We are thrilled to have her lead the program into its next chapter.”

Formerly known as the “Backpack Program,” this weekend food assistance program was launched in Knox County in 2015 in partnership with Good Shepherd Food Bank.

Although the program name has changed, the goal is the same: provide weekend meals and snacks for school-age children and their families in Knox County. AIO works with participating schools to ensure this supplemental weekend meal program continues to evolve and meet the needs of those participating families. The program has expanded since its launch in 2015, which along with the impact of the pandemic and projected rise in hunger statewide this year, led AIO’s Board to recognize the importance of having a dedicated staff member to help oversee the program.

As the AIO Weekend Meal Program Manager, O’Rourke will work with participating schools to enhance the current systems for food delivery for families who self-enroll into the program (all families will be invited to enroll when school starts up). She will lead the dedicated team of volunteers who deliver the program, which includes designing weekly menus, assembling food bags, as well as delivering food to the schools.

O’Rourke brings a tremendous amount of experience and enthusiasm to this new role, according to AIO. She returned to her home state of Maine in 2013 to raise her family and build a small business. She lives in Camden with her 7-year-old son. O’Rourke has spent 17 years working in the worlds of food, events, art and social justice. She is the owner of One & Supp, a creative design studio specializing in events.

In 2019 she opened a brick and mortar space in downtown Camden called Betty Forever – a multi-faceted event space in partnership with Ariela Nomi Kuh of ANK Ceramics. 

“I have spent many years working at the intersection of food and family and have been inspired by the work that AIO is doing within our community,” said O’Rourke. “In the wake of this worldwide pandemic, I felt compelled to take my unique set of creative skills and apply it directly to the pressing issues of child hunger and food insecurity that impact our communities of Knox County. I feel very honored to join the AIO team in the role of Weekend Meal Program Manager in order to ensure that the children and families of Knox County are nourished and supported.”

The systems that O’Rourke will create and put into place will be a great benefit to the program, according to AIO. The program will move its operations to AIO’s new building in Rockland once the capital campaign has been completed.

AIO’s new building campaign has just $50,000 left to raise before the goal is reached. The new 3,800 square foot building will include a larger and more efficient food market, a larger client waiting room, a private intake office, consultative offices for the AIO Energy Assistance program, as well as a root cellar, loading dock, food receiving and processing areas, and commercial refrigeration.

O’Rourke and AIO Warehouse Manager, Joe Ryan, will work together on providing the optimal food storage and assemble solutions. These efficiencies will allow AIO to provide More Food, More Often to anyone in Knox County who needs our support.

O’Rourke can be contacted at weekendmeal@aiofoodpantry.org.

To learn more about AIO’s programs, modified operations and our new building project, please visit www.aiofoodpantry.org.