With Summer Underway, Hungry Students A Big Concern - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

With Summer Underway, Hungry Students A Big Concern

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MARYLAND – School is officially out for much of the Eastern Shore, and although for many it's a time to enjoy some care-free time off, for some youngsters, their worries are just beginning.

Hundreds of students who get free or reduced meals during the year are facing more than two months without the program, and this year, the need may be worse than ever before.

This summer, the Eastern Shore Food Bank blames the increased need on this past winter. Officials say they normally see a short break in need between the months of February through April, but this year they did not have a break, averaging about 10,000 meals daily.

Now, the food bank is gearing up for almost an additional 1,500 meals every day for children up to age 18, at 30 different sites from Caroline County all the way to Somerset.

"Some children have no idea where the next meal is coming from and it becomes a pressure for the parent," says Jennifer Small, managing director at the Eastern Shore Food Bank. "We're trying to figure out ways to engage the community, raise more awareness to raise more funds so that we can put more food out and hopefully help the parents."

In Wicomico County alone, 60 percent of students rely on their schools' free or reduced meals. During the summer, the district has their own feeding program to tackle the need, which includes breakfast and/or lunch at summer school programs and various camps and church groups.

"When they qualify for those meals and when they're not coming to school they're still hungry," says Eric Goslee, food service supervisor with Wicomico County Public Schools. "We have some children that some meals that they get on Friday is the last good meal until they come back to school for breakfast on Monday. Our goal is to reach those that do have the need."

However, for the food bank, their biggest concern is still having enough.

"If the sites and organizations don't have enough staff to support it they're not able to take on additional children," says Small. "Having enough food is always a concern, we're constantly wondering how we are going to have enough food resources to meet the need, and the need grows every single year, and the food donations decline every single year."

While the food bank's summer feeding program has grown immensely over the past few years, Small says they still have a long way to go. She hopes that they can eventually bring a feeding program down at the Eastern Shore location, so they do not have to bring the resources from Baltimore.

The best way to help the food bank is through volunteering, or donations of food or money. For more information on how you can help, and for the list of feeding sites this summer, visit their website.

For other locations across Maryland, including Wicomico County Public School sites, visit the Maryland Summer Meals website.

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