Nearly 28,000 children in Baltimore County could receive increased food benefits to help their families buy groceries this summer under a significant local expansion of a state anti-hunger program.
Summer SNAP for Children will provide $30 monthly per eligible child in June, July and August. Each child will also receive $10 over winter break in December. The county had planned to serve about 10,000 kids, but additional state funding means many more will qualify, officials said.
“Summer months are difficult for low-income children because they lack access to school meals that fill a nutrition gap during the school year,” La Sherra Ayala, executive director of the state’s Family Investment Administration, said Tuesday at a news conference with county officials in Towson.
Since the pandemic hit in 2020, the county has distributed millions of meals, as well as boxes of fresh produce and dairy products, said County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., a Democrat.
But the county has shifted its focus from an emergency response to more permanent measures to address hunger, he said. For instance, the county hired its first food-security coordinator last year and is running shuttles in “food deserts.”
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration allocated $4.8 million this year to expand the state program, which started in 2020.
Baltimore County will spend $1.2 million on Summer SNAP for Children, and receive more than $1.5 million from the state.
More than half the students in the county’s public schools qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, said Kara Panowitz, a senior manager with No Kid Hungry Maryland.
“Hunger has long been a problem facing Baltimore County residents, and has only gotten worse since the beginning of the pandemic,” she said.
Families already enrolled in SNAP, also known as food stamps, don’t need to do anything to receive the summer benefits, officials said. The money is set to be automatically credited to families’ benefit cards for each child age 7-18.