School is out and many children across the state are fully engaged in their annual summer capers.
The problem, however, is most children don’t have access to school meals when the school year ends. To ensure low-income families have access to healthy meals this summer, the USDA has announced it will offer P-EBT benefits to all low-income children, which will help families put nutritious food on the table during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Maryland State Department of Education’s (MSDE) Free Summer Meals Program also is providing meals to youth ages 18 and under at sites throughout the state. In Maryland, almost 43% of students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals during the school year, but most of them don’t have access to school meals when the school year ends. The Free Summer Meals Program fills the nutrition gap between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next. Meals are available to all youth at any open or walk-in site, regardless of eligibility.
In fact, schools, government agencies, and community organizations throughout the state are working hard to make sure that children do not experience hunger throughout the summer. Sites may offer up to two meals a day, which can include breakfast, lunch, snacks, or supper. Meals and snacks include a variety of hot or cold entrees and are packed with nutritious fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Many sites that offer free summer meals also organize fun activities for youth, as well as families and community members. Some locations also host farmer’s markets, bookmobiles, and other special events.
The goal of Maryland’s Free Summer Meals Program is to ensure each and every child has a nutritious meal to fuel their summer adventures, which is really great news for the state’s parents and families.
To find the closest summer meals site, please visit MDsummerMeals.org, text ‘FOOD’ or ‘COMIDA’ to 877-877, or call 211.
Follow the MSDE Office of School and Community Nutrition Programs @MSDEnutrition on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay in the loop about summer meals and other child nutrition programs.