Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Wednesday said she hopes to increase the number of city schools students who receive free school meals during summer months.
According to Rawlings-Blake, about 85 percent of Baltimore's students were eligible for free and reduced school meals during the 2014-2015 school year. Last summer, the program served 1.1 million meals, impacting half of the city's eligible students. This year, Rawlings-Blake said she is "pushing for more" and hopes to feed at least 60 percent of those eligible.
"For many young people, [summer] means less access to all the services available to them during the school year," Rawlings-Blake said. She said she wants to ensure that children are "not worrying about where their next meal is coming from."
Rawlings-Blake kicked off the 2015 Summer Food Service Program, an initiative that provides free and healthy food to children that may otherwise go hungry in the months without school-provided meals, at the Enoch Pratt Free Library on West North Avenue in West Baltimore. The library will be one of the locations that serves meals during the summer.
The mayor encouraged potential hosting sites to volunteer to serve food this summer.
"I know we can not just meet our goal of 60 percent, but exceed it," she said.
Deputy Commissioner of Community Services Reginald Scriber said neighborhoods including Brooklyn, Curtis Bay, and parts of Park Heights are especially in need of additional serving sites.
"I don't want any child to come and say they're hungry," he said. "If you've ever gone hungry, you know that pain doesn't go away."
This week, it was announced, Baltimore students will be elligible to receive free breakfast and lunch at school, eliminating an old meal subsidy structure.
Rawlings-Blake was also slated to announce on Wednesday the results of a study into a city food map.