Out of School Doesn’t Mean Out of Luck: Summer Clubs | Maryland Food Bank
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Out of School Doesn’t Mean Out of Luck: Summer Clubs

Hosted by established community organizations where children feel comfortable and safe, our Summer Clubs and Supper Clubs ensure that kids can be kids in the late afternoons during the school year and over the summer.

Led by Chef Marcia Spencer, professional chefs in our Charles T. Bauer Community Kitchen use local produce and other healthy ingredients to provide tasty breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks to club attendees.

“While we are required to use the USDA guidelines to make sure each child receives a grain, a protein, a vegetable, a fruit, and milk, we talk to the kids to find out what they really like, so the food will actually be eaten,” said Chef Marcia.” We do family-style meals to foster engagement, so kids use their social skills and build community,” she continued.

Currently, more than 50 sites, primarily in Baltimore, Anne Arundel & Howard Counties, and Baltimore City host Summer and/or Supper Clubs, providing nearly 700,000 meals. In Western Maryland, the Boys & Girls Club of Allegheny County welcomes more than 40 kids to Supper Clubs in an average week.


“I know just from our experience, food insecurity here in our area is at an all-time high. And it’s not just people that aren’t working or people that aren’t trying. It’s everyone. It’s working moms and dads that are just having trouble putting food on the table. So for their kids to be here and their supper is taken care of, it’s a huge relief for parents.”


Program Aid, Boys & Girls Club of Allegheny County

And when school lets out, their capacity will be limited for Summer Club attendees. “With our current level of staffing and also transportation needs—the children really benefit from field trips and such—30 is a comfortable, and manageable number for us,” said Karen Wells, office manager.

And like we’re hearing from other partners, Wells has seen changes in the support from the Maryland Food Bank recently.

“It’s great that they’ve started sending us food that Rachel can heat up and cook get creative with—and she’s really good about doing that. We have more freedom to cater to what the kids will like, so that they’re still getting the nutritious meals and we have less waste,” said Karen.

boxes of red apples in school classroom

Rachel recalled one particularly successful meal.

“Last week they sent us vegetables and chicken, so I went to the store, got cream of chicken soup and biscuit mix and made chicken pot pie out of it—and the kids got excited about it!”

And even with the opportunity to eat meals and receive snacks, some families need even more. Rachel shared one poignant recollection of a third grader, who would constantly approach her at the end of a Club session.

Is there anything left over that you can send home with me? Stuff that I can cook because my mom doesn’t.

In addition to supporting their nutritional needs, Summer and Supper Clubs offer academic, athletic, and activity support to offer a complete experience to kids. “We’ve always had educational programs where they get homework help and various sports to play, but we’ve recently started implementing some music days with a singing company going and a bucket band, which has been very popular,” said Karen.

It’s humbling to see kids flourishing in our existing Summer and Supper Club locations, and we’re excited to expand this program so more Maryland families can find the relief they need.

About The Author

About The Author

Ben Gross

For more than 30 years, Ben has been helping organizations raise awareness and inspire action by creating compelling narratives. And since 2018, Ben has been Maryland Food Bank's Staff Writer, elevating the voices of food-insecure neighbors to further Maryland Food Bank's mission of feeding people, strengthening communities, and ending hunger for more Marylanders.

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