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Home > Publications > Quill > Winner: Naomi Schalit, Kennebec Journal


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Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Winner: Naomi Schalit, Kennebec Journal

“For I Was Hungry”

Jim Poyser

If you want to know about hunger in Maine, look in the top left-hand drawer of Margot Casell’s oak desk.

That’s where you’ll find a small box of yarn and canvas, topped with a purple and green flower.

You could imagine a little girl keeping hair ties in it.

But those are not what Caswell keeps in her pink box.

She keeps meals in it.

Meals for her hungry students.

Caswell has $4.26 crammed into this tiny box — money that she and the other teachers in this Augusta classroom take from their own pockets because they can’t bear to see their students go without the food they need.”

Judges said, “There are editorial campaigns that excoriate government officials, take on corporate giants or help free the unjustly incarcerated. Rarely does a series of editorials bring shame to an entire state, and even rare when a small daily takes on such a project. But that’s what Naomi Schalit of the Kennebec Journal of Augusta, Maine, did in bringing to light the vast number of people living with hunger — school children, the working poor, veterans and elderly.”

John Christie, publisher of Kennebec Journal, said, “We wanted to take hunger out of the shadows and place it directly in front of the public. We published a seven-part opinion series in mid-summer, which began, unusually, on the front page. … It is unusual for a small newspaper like ours (circulation less than 15,000) to commit this level of work to any type of series, and even more so for an editorial page series.”

Schalit is pleased that a “bill just passed with bipartisan support by the Legislature to expand school breakfast in Maine — a feat notable for the may times previously such a measure has failed and for the fact that it happened in the midst of a major budget shortfall.”

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