Even with that success, the statewide participation rate is only about 20 percent. Baltimore's summer meals program reaches 50 percent of children and teens who regularly participate in the free and reduced-meals program during the school year.
The USDA's Food and Nutrition Service reimburses the local urban providers $1.94 for each breakfast, $3.41 for lunches and dinners and 80 cents for snacks. The rate for meals in rural communities is slightly higher.
The city's housing office is expected to be reimbursed $3.4 million for the meals provided over the summer. Other providers, such as the Family League, the city school district, the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Maryland Food Bank, also will seek reimbursement.
Reggie Scriber, deputy housing commissioner, said among the efforts to notify children and parents are regular neighborhood canvasses, including a visit to the Cedonia neighborhood Thursday by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Councilman Brandon M. Scott.
"We want every child who qualifies to get these meals," Scriber said.
While the summer meals programs are available typically only on weekdays, schools and food banks stock pantries to help families stretch their resources on Saturdays and Sundays. The Family League also is considering the feasibility of expanding the mobile meals concept to weekends, and perhaps year-round service.
Free meals for children and teens
The Family League, in conjunction with Baltimore's housing agency, runs a mobile meals van that makes three stops each weekday. Participants do not have to provide ID or income verification. The program is intended for children and teens, but adults won't be turned away.
4 p.m.-4:45 p.m. — Pennsylvania Avenue library at the corner of North Avenue. Van parks on Cumberland Street.
5 p.m.-5:30 p.m. — Westside Elementary School, 2235 N. Fulton Ave. Van parks near the playground.
5:45 p.m.-6:30 p.m. — Across from McCulloh Homes at Robert C. Marshall Park, 544 Dolphin St.
To find out where else to get a meal, go to mdsummermeals.org or call 211.