Anonymous donor foots bill for free breakfast program

The West Tisbury library hosts ongoing family craft classes on Saturdays. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Just before Christmas, Les Holcomb of Edgartown organized “Just in Case,” a free breakfast program to supplement meals that students in the free lunch program at Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools might miss when school is not in session. When he went to Stop and Shop in Vineyard Haven to pay for the food supplies he had ordered, he learned that someone else had already paid the bill.

Mr. Holcomb knows the donor. “It was someone who asked to remain anonymous, and had covered the cost of the supplies for the 300 packs when I went to pay the bill,” Mr. Holcomb said in an email to The Times. “Just as no one asked for this program, that person didn’t consult with me when they did it. I was surprised.”

Mr. Holcomb distributed 175 breakfast packs among Trinity United Methodist Church in Oak Bluffs, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown, Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven, and the West Tisbury library before winter break. He said that approximately 50 were used, with West Tisbury distributing the most.

“It will be much easier to handle the February break, since there aren’t any holidays. We’ll have more contact through the soup suppers, and we’ll have more carefully targeted sites,” he said.

Mr. Holcomb plans to use the breakfast packs beyond supplementing the free meal programs at Island schools.

“The next step is to add other afterschool activity sites, prepare for the next two school breaks, test to see if there’s an interest by adults leaving the [church] shelters by 7 am to take one with them if they can’t stay for the regular breakfast, and consider integrating it into weekend activities,” Mr. Holcomb said.

As for summer, that is unclear. He is focusing on the breaks within the school year. “Nothing magical happens to lower-income families here in summer that [allows them to] pick up the extra expense,” he said. “I would guess, like the rest of us, they are still trying to pay off what they bought on some sort of credit over the winter.”