Hunger Relief When School's Out | Maryland Food Bank
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Hunger Relief When School’s Out

June 14, 2016

Maryland kids who benefit from school feeding programs during the academic year miss more than 40 million meals in the summer. Our Summer Clubs try to bridge this gap.

Despite receiving year-round food assistance, buying groceries in bulk, and even taking a free class on couponing, Savannah L. and her family of five kids always seem to be running low on food. For this reason, Savannah depends on the school breakfast and lunch programs that help feed her three elementary-aged children.

“When school is in session, I don’t have to worry about my kids going hungry because I’m fortunate enough to live somewhere that has to offer meals,” she said.

Her youngest children access 30 meals a week through these community feeding programs, but when summer comes around and school is out, Savannah finds herself struggling to provide enough food for her kids to eat.

“Those months are hard,” she said. “Especially when you have more than one kid depending on you to put food in front of them, but you’re not even sure what you’ll have or if you’ll have enough.”

With parents like Savannah in mind, President Barack Obama proposed a permanent, national expansion of summer feeding benefits for children in the fiscal 2017 budget earlier this year. The proposed funding would help provide support to parents whose children lose free and reduced price school meals during the summer months.

To help alleviate the summer meal gap for children, the Maryland Food Bank provides free meals to kids through the Summer Club program at partner sites like Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and other recreation centers. Throughout the summer months, the food bank’s community kitchen is running on all cylinders to produce more than 158,000 meals for kids in need.

“These are healthy, nutritious meals,” said Mel Brennan, the food bank’s vice president of programs and network relations. “The meals are prepared following the U.S.D.A. guidelines and are made up of well-balanced, nutritious foods, including fruit and vegetables.”

Last summer, Savannah found some piece of mind when her children stumbled into a local community center and were given meals that included fruit, vegetables, and milk. The kids were able to return to the community center all summer long, and Savannah was relieved to know they were getting nutritious food to eat.

“Fruit is so expensive,” Savannah said. “But it’s important for the kids to have it. As a parent, it’s my job to fill them with healthy food and I’m doing what I can to make that happen.”

7 thoughts on “Hunger Relief When School’s Out

  1. Church of deliverance apostolic faith/ of which I am pastor ( diane marshall) (4105999760) says:

    our church located at 904 n calhoun street 21215 like to become a distributor in our neighborhood. How can we applly
    this year again we are having clothing, book bags for those returning to school and other items. However We would like to add to that free food also . May we ask to have some free food from the food bank also , on august 27 2016..

  2. What about the children that live in rural areas, such as Southern Maryland (Calvert, Charles, & St. Marys Counties) where most children do not have access to community centers, boys and girls clubs, etc. I live in Prince Frederick, Maryland in Calvert County. Approximately 50% of the children in the elementary schools in our area receive the free and reduced rate meals when school is in session, but there is little or nothing available to them during the summer and long breaks from school

    1. Hi Jack, that’s a good question! In areas like Southern Maryland, where there’s limited access to community centers and boys and girls clubs, the food bank relies on our Pantry on the Go Program and our network partners to fill the gaps for households during the summer.

      You can read here about how a recent Pantry on the Go event was used to assist a low-income community in rural Western MD as they prepare to enter the summer months.

      And for more specific information about local hunger relief, I would encourage you to reach out to Maryland Food Bank partners — the Southern Maryland Food Bank and Chesapeake Cares.

      Thanks for reaching out!

      1. Ms Becca,

        Thank You for your response. I am connected to End Hunger Calvert. They help support a program that I started in Calvert County in 2012 called the “HeartFELT Ministry.” HeartFELT Fills Empty Little Tummies by providing backpacks filled with food for the children that receive free meals at school to eat on the weekends. At the end of the current school year HeartFELT was serving over 300 children in the Calvert County Elementary Schools and approximately 30 children in Charles County. Doing that is easy for us to do during the school year, but summer break is a problem.

        I am very familiar with the Pantry on the Go Program. I am a volunteer at Farming 4 Hunger (F4H). One of the things that I do there is drive the F4H refrigerated truck. I have done many of the Pantry on the Go food drops for the Maryland Food Bank over the past 2 years in the Southern Maryland area.

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