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During first week of closures due to coronavirus pandemic, Howard schools serve more than 22,500 free meals

The Howard County Public School System provided roughly 22,500 free meals last week to children while all 77 schools were closed due to the spread of the new coronavirus.

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“I appreciate all of the efforts of staff in providing nutritious meals so our children may continue to receive the nourishment needed to stay healthy and active while at home,” Howard schools Superintendent Michael Martirano said in an email Monday to the school system community.

The 22,593 served meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner, were provided across nine meal sites in the county, according to Brian Bassett, a schools spokesman.

Unlike the school system’s free summer vacation and winter and spring break meals programs, these meals are “Grab-N-Go” style because no one is allowed in the buildings.

The meals are provided to anyone younger than the age of 18 and available from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. through Friday, excluding weekends.

Last week, the breakfast included cereal, cereal bars, sunflower seeds, milk and juice. Hot meals for lunch included chicken patties, hot dogs, hamburgers, fruits, vegetables and milk. Dinner featured sandwiches, such as chicken, turkey and ham, with vegetables, fruits and milk.

Though there have been no announcements as of Monday, the school system is anticipating an extended school closure and is preparing for continued out-of-school learning, Martirano said in the email.

Expanded learning resources for students to use at home will be provided at some point this week. The materials will be posted on the school system’s website, and printed copies will be available for families to pick up at the meal sites.

As of Monday, there have been at least 288 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Maryland, according to state officials, with 26 of those in Howard County, including a case with a 5-year-old girl. Three people have died in the state so far.

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Grab-N-Go sites

School sites:

  • Howard High School, 8700 Old Annapolis Road, Ellicott City
  • Oakland Mills Middle School, 9540 Kilimanjaro Road, Columbia
  • Swansfield Elementary School, 5610 Cedar Lane, Columbia
  • Cradlerock Elementary School/Lake Elkhorn Middle School, 6680 Cradlerock Way, Columbia

Mobile sites:

  • Laurel Woods Elementary School parking lot, 9250 North Laurel Road, Laurel
  • Ducketts Lane Elementary School parking lot, 6501 Ducketts Lane, Elkridge
  • Bushy Park Elementary School parking lot, 14601 Carrs Mill Road, Glenwood
  • Monarch Mills Apartments, 7600 Monarch Mills Way, Columbia
  • Forest Ridge Apartments, 5890 Stevens Forest Road, Columbia
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