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Piscataquis Passport will lead to summer fun for kids

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — This summer one may see kids carrying “passports” around Dover-Foxcroft. The Piscataquis Passport encourages kids to have free summer meals as well as enjoy other activities in the community.

At activities listed in the Passport, kids get a square signed or stamped. At the end of the summer participants turn in their Passports to win a prize — special recognition will go to students who fill each square. Sign-up for the Passport will be at SeDoMoCha School on Thursday, June 22 and Friday, June 23 from 11 a.m. to noon.

The SeDoMoCha School offers free breakfast and lunch to anyone under 18 who walks through the doors (kids under 8 must be accompanied by an adult). Meals are served Monday through Friday and must be eaten on premises. Breakfast is from 8:30-9 a.m. and lunch is from 11 a.m. to noon. The SeDoMoCha kitchen also prepares free kids’ lunches served at Mayo Regional Hospital on Mondays (11 a.m. to noon) and at the Piscataquis Regional YMCA Tuesdays and Thursdays (12-12:30 p.m.).

The Piscataquis Passport was inspired by “4-H Market Kids,” a program developed by Barb Baker, UMaine Extension 4-H educator in Penobscot County. 4-H Market Kids tracked participation in farmers’ market activities. Trisha Smith, home horticulture aide at UMaine Extension Piscataquis, wanted to expand the focus of Barker’s program beyond farmers’ markets. As coordinator of the SeDoMoCha School garden, Smith was also looking for ways to bring students to the garden in the summer. Others were interested in encouraging attendance at Thompson Free Library’s summer programs, and engaging kids at the Dover Cove Farmers’ Market. Tapping into the spirit of cooperation central to UMaine Extension, she worked with Piscataquis Healthy Food for All as well as representatives of other concerned organizations to include a wide variety of kids’ activities on the Piscataquis Passport.

Because this is the first year of the Piscataquis Passport, kinks are inevitable, and refinements will have to be made. Other communities and organizations have expressed interest in the Piscataquis Passport as a model, and will be watching the experience. Organizers are optimistic that the Piscataquis Passport will succeed in the community and go on to inspire others.

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