Posted by Brenda Pollock on Sep 30, 2020
Saco - Thornton Academy is one of the few “town academies” still existing in Maine. Founded in 1811, Thornton Academy precedes public education and, as a result, is an independent school serving the public education needs of students from the city of Saco and the surrounding towns of Arundel and Dayton. As an independent school, Thornton Academy does not receive any public funding to cover the costs of the free breakfast and lunch program. 
With a cost of around $300,000 a year, Thornton provides free breakfast and lunch to over 250 food insecure students through private gifts to the Headmaster’s Student Assistance Fund from alumni, friends, parents, local businesses and revenue from TA’s annual auction. With the impact of COVID-19 on our community, Thornton Academy expects the number of students applying and qualifying to participate in the program to increase.
Kaitlin Tito is a 2006 graduate of TA and co-chair of the Biddeford Saco Rotary Club’s COVID Crisis team.  When she identified a need at TA, the committee stepped in to offer some financial assistance to assure no child is left without a meal. “The consequence of this crisis has shown us there is no one that has not been affected,” said Tito. “Students with food insecurities is a growing problem as a result of the pandemic. I’m grateful to be part of an organization helping to fill the gaps and ensure students have nutritious food.”
The Headmaster’s Student Assistance Fund also provides support for miscellaneous expenses that identified students may otherwise go without – glasses, sneakers, equipment, and access to internet service during this time of hybrid learning. The fund also supports the Backpack Program, which provides weekend nutrition for food insecure students.
“The generosity of the greater TA community plays an integral role in lifting up some of our most vulnerable students,” added Headmaster Menard.  “On behalf of those students who will benefit from your generosity, thank you to the Rotary Club of Biddeford-Saco for choosing to invest in our students through these programs.”
For more information on The Rotary Club of Biddeford Saco  /, or for more information on Thornton Academy, visit:
From L-R:  Conrad Welzel, Chair-COVID Committee, Biddeford Saco Rotary Club; Headmaster Rene Menard, Thornton Academy; and Kaitlin Tito, Co-Chair-COVID Committee, Biddeford Saco Rotary Club.