Full Plates Full Potential is on a mission to end childhood food insecurity in Maine, and we’re just getting started. Born of the idea that no child should grow up hungry, we take a collaborative approach to effect lasting change and we believe that solutions are within reach.
Our strategy is to maximize access to USDA Child Nutrition Programs - commonly known as school lunch, school breakfast, afterschool meals, and summer meals - which promise free meals to every child who needs them, and Maine kids need them. Our youth suffer the highest rate of child food insecurity in New England. Prior to the pandemic, 80,000 Maine kids relied on school meals daily. Due to economic hardships caused by COVID-19, the number of children experiencing food insecurity, statewide, has increased significantly.
School meals are the cornerstone of combating food insecurity for Maine kids. Sadly, too many face barriers to accessing these meals. Full Plates works to remove logistical and social barriers by providing technical and financial assistance to schools and communities across the state to help feed kids now, while advocating for systemic changes necessary to ensure that all Maine children have consistent access to nutritious meals.
Full Plates Full Potential was established in 2014 and not a moment too soon. In our early years, we worked to build capacity, consensus, and trust, positioning our organization to launch a rapid-response when the largest food security crisis children have faced in a century struck.
When John Woods and Justin Alfond founded Full Plates, they did so with a vision for Maine becoming a state in which no child grows up hungry. Even before a global pandemic, they recognized that child hunger was a crisis for every child experiencing food insecurity. While the pandemic laid bare and exacerbated child hunger, it will not subside as COVID-19 does. Whether you found your way to our work before the pandemic or because of it, we invite you to stay with us until every Maine child has consistent access to nutritious meals. We’re closer than ever.
Since our inception, Full Plates has granted more than $3 million to child nutrition programs in every Maine county - $2.6 million of which has been issued since COVID-19 first forced schools to transition to remote learning in March 2020. These emergency pandemic grants have been critical in helping to navigate the challenges of feeding kids in school and at home, often simultaneously, while adhering to complex and expensive virus-mitigation protocols.
Meet our Team
Policy & Program Director
Policy & Program Director
Anna was born and raised in rural Maine. As a young mother, Anna relied on programs like WIC and SNAP to put food on the table. While grateful for the food security they provided, her experience with the systemic barriers and lack of dignity that are steeped in those programs led her to her Masters in Public Policy at the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine where she focused her studies on poverty, food security, and education policy. She is passionate about supporting and strengthening School Nutrition programs across our state, and believes that they are critical to ensuring a bright future for Maine children. Prior to her work with Full Plates Full Potential, Anna worked as a server at a wood-fired pizza restaurant for 16 years. She lives in Portland with her husband Brian, 12 year old son Arlo, and their dog Flora, loves to be outside, and enjoys all things food related.
“Food is a basic human need, but it is also a great source of comfort, joy, and creativity. Children need food and deserve comfort, joy, and creativity in their lives! I am passionate about supporting and strengthening School Nutrition Programs across our state and believe that they are critical to ensuring a bright future for Maine children.”
Anna's favorite school lunch menu item:
“Pizza and mashed potatoes! Comfort food!”
Child Nutrition Consultant
Child Nutrition Consultant
Christine has always been interested in everything FOOD! She got her Bachelor's Degree as an adult in 1986 and her Masters in 1990. As a registered and licensed Dietitian, Christine found her "home" in School Nutrition.
She feels lucky to have had the position of Director of the School Nutrition Program in the school district she calls home (RSU 22, Hampden). For 30 years she experienced all the changes, ups, and downs of feeding school children. She would not change one minute.
“Feeding kids and knowing we are making a difference is the greatest experience there is. Working with Full Plate Full Potential and seeing the impact this organization is making is truly amazing.”
Christine's favorite school lunch menu item:
“The ‘old school’ meals. Homemade yeast rolls, chicken or turkey in gravy, mashed potatoes - yum!! It doesn't get any better than that!!”
Operations & Evaluation Manager
Operations & Evaluation Manager
After learning about and engaging with Maine’s food system through working in various non-profit, education, and retail spaces, Eliza joined the Full Plates team in 2021. They are passionate about building and supporting equitable food systems and believe in a future where every kid, regardless of who they are and where they live, can access and enjoy delicious food every day.
Eliza grew up in Vermont, went to college in Minnesota, and now calls Maine home. Their happy place is sitting outside with a nice cup of tea.
“Inequitable access to food is such a huge and complex issue, one that requires long-term, collaborative, and imaginative solutions. And yet hunger is also an issue that demands immediate response and action. I’m excited about Full Plates because they have a direct impact on day-to-day food access for kids in Maine while simultaneously envisioning new possibilities and advocating for lasting, systems-level change.”
Eliza's favorite school lunch menu item:
"Oh gosh, I was such a picky eater...do Uncrustables count?"
Erica comes to Full Plates Full Potential with a background in nonprofit management in the performing arts sector. She is excited to tell the story of the impact that Full Plates has within the community, and to get more individuals involved with supporting our work. A recent transplant to Maine, Erica lives in Portland with her partner and two kids.
“Ending childhood hunger is about more than a band aid solution. It is about systemic change, and addressing injustices and inequalities that have been a part of our country since its founding.”
Erica's favorite school lunch menu item:
“I usually brought lunch from home, but was given 50 cents to buy chocolate milk. Except, I often used my milk money for a delicious cosmic brownie instead.”
Jenn is passionate about addressing issues of social and economic inequality through the food systems lens. Before returning home to Midcoast Maine, she spent a decade working in food education and access in New York City and New York’s Hudson Valley, where she was the Director of Programs for The Sylvia Center, a food education non-profit. Before joining the team at Full Plates, she worked with the Maine DOE to launch Maine’s Harvest of the Month program, a local food initiative for public schools.
She spends her time at Full Plates managing grant programs, fostering community & grantee relations, and working in tandem with partners to inform grant-making activities.
Jenn is a graduate of Wesleyan University, where she received her BA in Film Studies and holds an MA in Food Studies from New York University. Naturally curious and perpetually in motion, Jenn loves traveling to new places, exploring Maine by bicycle, and hosting a good dinner party—but is most recharged whenever she can find a moment to sit still by the ocean.
“I believe that everyone should have access to nutritious and high-quality food without stigma.”
Jenn's favorite school lunch menu item:
“American Chop Suey!"
Justin is thrilled to join the passionate Full Plates team as Full Plates’ first Executive Director, helping to set and execute organizational vision and strategy. He is a firm believer in the power and possibility that comes from combining potential with the spark of opportunity. He has spent his career working to dismantle broken systems and structures, in order to ensure that opportunity exists for all, and not just the privileged.
Growing up, Justin spent his summers in Maine, then returned to attend Bowdoin College, earning an AB in Government and Teaching. He began his career with Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City where he found a passion for college access and completion work. This passion led him to Boston and Bottom Line, a national organization focused on supporting students from low-income backgrounds to, and through, college. He remained at Bottom Line for more than 11 years, holding a variety of roles including a four-year stint as Executive Director of the flagship Boston region. While in Boston, Justin completed the Institute for Nonprofit Practice’s certificate program through Tufts University and earned an MS in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Northeastern University. In late 2020, Justin followed his heart back to Brunswick, where he now lives with his wife and two young boys.
He loves spending time in the outdoors, cooking, and cracking open a local craft beer while sitting around a firepit.
“Poverty and child hunger are societal failings, not those of any one individual or family. It is incumbent on all of us to work collectively to not only ensure children can access the food they need today but also to work towards a better, more perfect future. I believe Full Plates Full Potential can be the catalyst for this needed systemic change.”
Justin's favorite school lunch menu item:
“Pizza bagels and chocolate chip cookies! I miss my childhood metabolism!"
Development Partnerships Manager
Development Partnerships Manager
Born and raised in Maine, Keirstin is passionate about the health and wellness of Maine children. Keirstin serves as relationship manager for FEED KIDS partners, corporate partners, and oversees fundraising events. She is dedicated to working with community partners to together raise the crucial funds needed to help end child hunger in Maine.
A Portland resident, you can find her at the ocean & lakes in the summer and hitting the slopes in the winter. When she’s not outside exploring, she’s checking out the ever-expanding food/beverage scene and looking for her new favorite food truck.
“Maine children (and all children) deserve barrier-free access to nutritious food. Together, it is possible to end child hunger for all Maine kids by providing the funds needed to make immediate changes while also working towards lasting systemic change.”
Keirstin's favorite school lunch menu item:
"Pigs in a blanket with mashed potatoes and lots of ketchup – yum!"
Community Engagement Manager
Community Engagement Manager
Kirsten was born and raised in Downeast Maine. She possesses a strong understanding and respect for the struggles and beauty that rural life offers. Being raised in a large family that gathered to share food and love, she understands and appreciates the importance of equal access to food and nutrition, not only in the world, but also in each and every community.
As a single mother, Kirsten understands the struggle that many parents face gathering and preparing food on a small budget. From a young age, Kirsten developed a passion for helping others and supporting equity for all. She has an extensive background in the service industry as well as gardening, and community education/advocacy. Combining those skills with a love of all things food and life experiences she brings drive and passion to end hunger here in Maine.
“Food has a profound way of connecting people, however until all have a seat at the table and food on their plates there will always be an unnecessary disconnect. Adequate nutrition is a basic human need. Everyone deserves to have food on the table that is not only healthy but delicious. Sharing a meal should be enjoyable- a time for conversation, love, and bonding without worry or shame.”
Kirsten's favorite school lunch menu item:
"The end of the year field day cookout! Hotdogs, chips, and grape popsicles!"
Child Nutrition Consultant
Child Nutrition Consultant
Lynnette started working in School Nutrition in 1979 as a 4-hour baker in the old Alfred Elementary School. She loved it! She soon decided she wanted to be a School Nutrition Director and went back to school, getting one degree in Culinary Arts and another as a Dietetic Technician from SMCC.
Her first Director job was for MSAD 60 in North Berwick, where she worked for 30 years. She also spent 10 years in school nutrition for RSU 57 in Waterboro – for 7 of these years, Lynnette managed both districts simultaneously! She especially loved the creative parts: fun challenges and promotions at the elementary schools, Chili Challenges at the middle and high schools, and making new and exciting menus. Lynnette has been a member of the Maine School Nutrition Association for 43 years and has been president of the association twice over the years.
Lynnette retired in 2019 and happily went to work for Full Plates as a consultant to School Nutrition Programs, which allows her to stay in contact with all her SNP friends and keep up with what is happening. In her retirement, she enjoys boating, being in the woods "up north", and practicing fly fishing.
“I love School Nutrition! It doesn't get any better than working with kids and food!”
Lynnette's favorite school lunch menu item:
“Tacos with all the veggie fixings on the salad bar, and also any meal that included fresh baked items...rolls, Italian breads, muffins, and of course fresh made cookies!”
Board of Directors
Former School Nutrition Director
Having lived for more than 30 years in a food insecure and impoverished area of Maine has brought many opportunities for both my professional and personal life. I reside and work in the Skowhegan area of Central Maine. My current work, administrator for Community Based Strategies for Somerset County, evolved from my having recently retired from the RSU 54/MSAD 54 school district as the Director of School Nutrition. The work has never ended for me as I continue to strive to reduce stigma, lift others up to their potential, and bring a voice to the children and adults in my town, county, and state.
I am blessed and proud to call myself: wife, mother, and grandmother. My family has supported my dreams of bringing meals to all school-aged children across the state at no cost to their families. It has been my honor to work with others and to see School Meals For All become a reality in Maine, even during a worldwide pandemic.
"Finding creative and honorable ways to solve childhood hunger in Maine is possible! Full Plates Full Potential tells the story of our future in Maine and allows all children to dream and become their best selves."
Laura’s favorite school lunch menu item:
"Real mashed potatoes, baked chicken, & green beans"
Entrepreneur, Activist, and Philanthropist
Justin is a deeply committed, socially responsible investor, activist and philanthropist. He serves on nonprofit boards, invests in Maine impact businesses that support people and the planet, and redistributes his wealth to nonprofits working for a more inclusive, equitable, and just society.
Justin previously served in the Maine State Legislature, founded the Maine League of Young Voters and co-founded Full Plates Full Potential. Justin loves to cook, travel, hike, ski, bike, and play golf. He lives in Portland with his partner Rachael, two kids, and their dog Tipitina.
“All children deserve the opportunity to reach their potential. I serve to ensure that everyday all Maine students have access to nutritious school meals.”
Justin's favorite school lunch menu item:
“Mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans”
CFO, VETRO, Inc.
Michaela has 20+ years of operating experience with deep industry expertise in growth-oriented, B2B SaaS technology companies. She earned her CPA with Arthur Andersen, followed by a number of years in accounting, tax, and compliance roles investing in privately-held businesses. After earning her MBA at Harvard Business School, she moved into a finance and operations focused career supporting private equity-backed technology companies. As a strategic CFO, Michaela has managed sales, global finance and operations, and HR. She has successfully led debt and equity fundraising efforts, and the sale of a SaaS business.
"Food security for children is essential to their ability to dream, to learn, and to access opportunities. Finding ways to remove systemic barriers that reinforce inequality is important to me and I am honored to serve on the Board of FPFP. Their multi-pronged approach to combat the issue of food insecurity - working with the community, partners, and legislature while promoting an entrepreneurial mindset - is impressive and benefitting the children of Maine."
Michaela's favorite school lunch menu item:
Attorney and Mediator
Chelsey is an attorney and mediator who lives and works in Skowhegan, Maine. She grew up in China, ME and attended the University of Maine School of Law. Since graduating law school she has focused her practice on alternative dispute resolution.
Chelsey runs the Skowhegan Food Backpack Program, working with a team of volunteers weekly to feed hundreds of families in the MSAD #54 community with the ultimate goal of ending childhood hunger in her district. She is also a board member of the Skowhegan Rotary Club, a board member of the Skowhegan Healthy Kids Pack Program, and sits on various school committees for her children.
She is happily married to her husband of twelve years Peter, and has three young children in the Skowhegan area schools. She enjoys traveling, downhill skiing, camping, and adventuring with her family.
"Full Plates Full Potential has a direct impact on feeding students in my children's school district and statewide. I've seen firsthand the support this organization gives to communities and I'm honored to be a part of the board."
Chelsey's favorite school lunch menu item:
"French Bread Pizza and the Ice Cream Topping Bar"
Entrepreneur, Chef, and Non-Profit Founder
Khadija Ahmed is a believer in equity and food justice as well as a militant for human rights. She works for Good Shepherd Food Bank as an Equity and Impact Manager. She’s also a founder of a non-profit organization, that serves immigrant and asylum seekers by removing barriers including but aren’t limited to transportation, language, and culturally relevancy.
Additionally, she works as a chef, teaches cooking classes, and trains school staff on preparing meals that reflect the student body.
She lives with her partner, five children and two cats, and enjoys reading, antique hunting, and coffee with good friends.
“School breakfast and lunch are the only meals that we know for sure are being served to children. We often don’t know what is going on at home, but as a society we can make sure that the children are fed meals that are nutritious, relevant, and supportive of learning.”
Khadija’s favorite school lunch menu item:
"My favorite meal at school is beignet and peanut butter."
Julie Butcher Pezzino
Julie Butcher Pezzino
Executive Director, Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine
Julie is the Executive Director of the Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine (CMTM). She started at CMTM in the summer of 2019, and led the organization to the completion of a successful $15M capital campaign and construction project, as well as navigation through the pandemic.
Prior to joining CMTM, she served as Executive Director of Grow Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA. During her eight year tenure, Julie worked alongside city and regional policy makers, leaders of underserved communities, as well as local and national funders to increase access to green space and implement healthy food programs for children and families in Pittsburgh’s lowest-income neighborhoods.
Julie has a Masters Degree from the H. John Heinz III College at Carnegie Mellon University with a concentration in Public Policy and Management, and a Bachelor's Degree in Communications from American University. She lives in Portland with her husband, two children, and two dogs.
"I serve on Full Plates' board because I believe strongly that access to healthy and consistent meals during and after school is a right and not a privilege. Children can't learn and thrive if they are hungry, and ensuring that all kids in Maine can eat well, without stigma or struggle, is critically important for their mental and physical health, and for our state's future and growth."
Julie’s favorite school lunch menu item:
Program Officer, Maine Community Foundation
Steph has been coordinating farm to school programs with public schools in the NE since 2010--from managing educational gardens to teaching food systems curriculum. She coordinated Maine Farm & Sea to School Network from 2019 until 2023 and currently works at Maine Community Foundation facilitating grant making and mobilizing funders invested in the food, climate, & environmental justice movements. She stewards a half-acre of edible gardens in Freeport ME.
"Supporting local foods in schools increases our economic, social, and environmental wellbeing here in Maine -- Kids Win, Farmers Win, and Community Wins!"
Steph’s favorite school lunch menu item:
Co-owner, Cold Spring Ranch
Molly has over 20 years of experience in Colorado, Vermont and Maine working with various organizations around the issues of agricultural land conservation, natural resource protection, public policy, clinical care, and community health. Through all of these lenses, she has developed an appreciation for the deep and complex connections between food, farming, the environment, and health.
She worked as a nurse practitioner at Franklin Health Pediatrics and then brought the nationally-recognized Let’s Go! program to Franklin County where she served as the coordinator for five years at the Healthy Community Coalition of Greater Franklin County. Through those positions she worked on initiatives ranging from farm-to-school efforts to supporting school nutrition directors in offering healthy snacks and meals to standardizing screening for food insecurity at every pediatric well child visit. She has served on several boards related to local and sustainable agriculture and has an interest in forging a strong connection between local food systems and local school systems in Maine in a way that can be mutually beneficial.
Molly lives in New Portland with her husband and their two daughters where they run Cold Spring Ranch, a solar powered farm using regenerative practices to raise local grass fed beef and pastured pork. She loves to enjoy western Maine on cross country skis or in a kayak and to snuggle up on a couch to read aloud to her kids.
“I genuinely believe that every child deserves to have access to nutritious food and that it serves as a vital foundation for kids to grow, play, and learn. I’m honored to be on the board of an organization that is tackling such a critical issue as ensuring that no child in Maine grows up hungry."
Molly's favorite school lunch menu item:
"Pizza and fresh baked cookies."
Former USDA Under Secretary FNCS
Kevin has a four decade history of senior leadership positions in state and federal health and human services in Maine, Oregon, Iowa, and Washington DC.
He has also served on numerous boards and commissions in leadership posts. He was elected President of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors and elected as President of the American Public Welfare Association.
"Full Plates is a genuine example of serving as a strong catalyst to more fully use all available resources to feed children and youth though child nutrition programs."
Kevin's favorite school lunch menu item:
"Homemade beef stew!"
Director of External Communications & Community Relations, Hannaford Supermarkets
For the past three years, Ericka has led Hannaford’s public relations across their five-state marketplace. In addition to this role, she serves as the Chair of the company’s LGBTQA+ employee/business resource group. Prior to her work at Hannaford, she was the Vice President of Public Affairs, Marketing, and Development for Central Maine Healthcare. For seven years, Katz worked for the Maine Senate Democrats - first as Communications Director and then as Chief of Staff. She has worked on various federal, state, and local political campaigns helping candidates and issue advocates favorably impact their communities. In her 20 years of communications experience, she has strategized, messaged, and managed crises for real estate developers, entrepreneurs, school superintendents and school boards, lawyers, environmentalists, public officials, and many others.
When not working, she enjoys long walks with her husband and 12 year-old pointer on the dozens of trails around her home in Brunswick, Maine.
"There is nothing more fundamental to equity and fulfilled potential than access to nutritious food. We can’t expect children to thrive in school, at home, or on the playground if they are going without nourishment. I am humbled by the focus, drive, and dedication of FPFP to make a difference in the lives of thousands of young people across our state."
Ericka's favorite school lunch menu item:
School Nutrition Director, RSU 10
Jeanne is the Director of School Nutrition Programs for Regional School Unit 10 (Western Regional Foothills). Inspired to explore the field of nutrition and dietetics through an internship with the food service director during her senior year at Rumford High School, Jeanne went on to graduate from the University of Maine at Farmington as a Dietetic Technician and is currently licensed as a Dietetic Technician in the State of Maine.
Her first position out of College was at the Rumford Community Hospital. She received the Recognized Young Dietetic Technician of the year and she worked in Long Term Care Facilities across Western Maine for 15 years. Her career has spanned 42 years in the work of Nutrition serving all age levels.
Jeanne became the School Nutrition Director in the former MSAD 43 in 2002 and has continued to follow her calling in RSU 10 where she now oversees six kitchens serving 1,824 students daily. 74% of students in RSU 10 qualify for USDA Meal Benefits and three schools participate in the Community Eligibility Provision, serving free meals to all students. Jeanne oversees programs that include Breakfast, Lunch, Snack, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Programs, and Summer Meals, all with an emphasis on accessibility and quality.
"No child deserves to live with the shame and stigma of food insecurity."
Jeanne's favorite school lunch menu item:
"Turkey and gravy"
FoodCorps Impact and Partnerships Lead, Maine
After graduating from the University of Maine with a Bachelors of Music in Performance, Ryan landed a job with the United States House of Representatives. He left the House to start his own commercial, micro-scale, diversified farm, which grew to become the largest year-round CSA in Maine. While building his farm business, and simultaneously starting a family, Ryan became interested and involved in food, agriculture, and education policy, and has lobbied and written extensively about each. Ryan is heavily involved in his community, including serving on the RSU 19 School Board and coaching youth sports. Ryan joined FoodCorps after working with the Natural Resources Council of Maine to establish Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, and writing the book, literally, on school food waste reduction. Ryan has extensive policy experience at the local, state, and federal levels, has written and helped pass legislation related to local procurement, food waste, land conservation, food/ag education, and is currently working to expand experiential learning and school meal access in Maine.
"In a country where food is extremely undervalued, which of course leads to kids in schools not getting what they need in terms of the building of food culture and value, Full Plates Full Potential is one of those bright spots. An organization that sits at the intersection of the need to defend school nutrition and the professionals that make it run, while at the same time working hard to improve the quality of what is on offer for our state's and nation's children."
Ryan's favorite school lunch menu item:
Director - Talent, Diversity & Inclusion, Bangor Savings Bank
David currently serves as SVP and Director of Talent, Diversity & Inclusion for Bangor Savings Bank. His role is both internally and externally focused, working on building Bank talent and diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as working externally to build a diverse workforce in Maine and NH. Prior to joining Bangor Savings Bank, David had 30 years of HR leadership experience. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science, and of Lesley University with a Master’s of Science in Human Resources Management.
In addition to being a frequent HR, leadership, and DEI speaker throughout Maine and NH, David serves on numerous boards and advisory councils focused on employment, education, diversity & equity, and workforce. David serves as mentor and coach to numerous students and professionals in all stages of their education and career.
David lives in Falmouth with his husband Ed. His hobbies include travel, photography, cooking, tennis, and reading.
"To ensure that every Maine child can reach their full potential and promise, we must end hunger and significantly reduce poverty in our state."
David's favorite school lunch menu item:
"American Chop Suey and Green Beans"
Business Management Consultant
Diane's 20+ years of experience in the footwear and apparel industry enables her to help brands become more profitable by finding inefficiencies and opportunities in the operations, finding new sales paths, and leveraging infrastructure to create new businesses. She strongly believes that having solid plans and processes governing your business will free the brand to grow and thrive. Diane is passionate about people, culture, and creating an impactful brand. Her specialties include strategy, planning, and execution; process; profitability; leadership; communication; and building winning teams.
She comes from a big family and has four children of her own. Her top priority is to raise her children to be active, optimistic, and generous, making sure they take risks and try lots of things.
"I believe that community service is a responsibility, and not a choice, and I want to continue the work to which my husband dedicated himself."
Diane's favorite school lunch menu item:
Ending child hunger in Maine became John’s life’s work nearly two decades ago and will be his enduring legacy. Called to this mission by the simple idea that no child should grow up hungry and inspired by the belief that solutions are within reach, John’s work to end child hunger in Maine has touched countless lives and will have ripple effects for generations.
Full Plates Full Potential Supporting Organizations
The Full Plates Full Potential supporting organizations are a wide range of businesses that all have a significant role to play in ending child hunger. These companies are positioned to help implement opportunities, raise awareness, and invest funds that directly connect food-insecure kids in Maine with nutritious meals.
Questions or comments about our organization and what we do? We want to hear from you! Fill out our contact form with your name, email address, and message, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!
14 Maine Street
Brunswick, ME 04011