Free summer meals being offered to kids in Maryland
SALISBURY, Md. – Here on the Eastern Shore, the Maryland Food Bank’s Summer Meal Program is eight years old. This year, officials say they’ll be serving free meals to almost 2,000 kids every single day.
Salvation Army North Lake Park is one Maryland Food Bank’s 18 sites across the Shore, where kids can go to get breakfast and lunch. It’s part of the State’s free summer meal program and it’s as easy as walking right through the front doors.
“We feed the public. So if any kid comes from the outside, they can come eat with us,” says Felecia Mitchell, the program director with the Salvation Army NLP.
Every summer, organizations across Maryland partner up with the Food Bank to welcome kids with open arms and make sure their bellies are full.
“When the school year ends, our goal through the Summer Feeding Program is to make sure those children remain in tact with some sort of consistency, to be able to make sure they maintain nutrition and have interactive opportunities so that the parents do not have to struggle,” says Jennifer Small, the Regional Programs Director at the Maryland Food Bank – Eastern Shore.
While the free meals are given to kids 18 years and younger, officials says the program directly helps parents too.
“We know that families, it’s really difficult for them to ask for help. So in this instance it’s a really easy opportunity for them not to have to ask. It’s almost like a given,” says Small.
Whether kids eat breakfast, lunch or both at these sites, program directors say these meals mean more than you could ever imagine.
“The joy that it had because they didn’t even have things like peanut butter and jelly in their home,” says Small.
Officials tell 47 ABC, sometimes this food is all these kids eat during the summer.
“Some kids don’t even have dinner the night before. So when they come in they’re looking forward to breakfast. And some of them, their lunch might be their dinner. And they don’t have a dinner plan. So they eat up while they’re here,” says Mitchell.
But thanks to this program, no child in Maryland should have to worry about where their next hot meal comes from.
“They look forward to it. I’m gonna tell you. And they get hot meals instead of cold sandwiches and stuff. They get hot meals every day,” says Mitchell.
Most of Maryland’s free Summer Meal Sites officially open up on Monday June 24th and are open until August 30th, to make sure that kids have consistent meals until they go back to school.
To find a location near you simply call 2-1-1 or visit 211MD.org.
For an interactive map of summer meal sites: click here.