Some members of the PTA Council of Baltimore County are considering expanding to the schools they represent the effort by a local network group to fight food insecurity in schools.
At a general meeting Thursday evening of the council — an umbrella group of Baltimore County parent teacher associations which helps school PTA members with training and advocacy work — members representing schools across the county heard from the creator of the Loch Raven Network, which offers a “support room” at Loch Raven High School. The designated room at the high school is used to store donations of food, toiletries, clothing and other items for students whose families are struggling financially.
The group also runs a food pantry at Parkville High School in conjunction with the high school’s parent teacher association.
“Whether you can start this at your school or not, the rates of poverty that we have in this school system are affecting everyone,” Loch Raven Network founder Laurie Taylor-Mitchell said at a presentation to the council. “There’s no question about that.”
According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, the percentage of students from low-income families is on the rise nationwide. While around 20 percent of students lived in poverty in 1990, more than 40 percent of students live in poverty today, Taylor-Mitchell said. She said the numbers are similar in Baltimore County.
The group stores the items in a closet where school guidance counselors are then able to distribute items as they see fit.
Cheikh said she was interested in starting a similar network at Ridgely Middle, where more than 41 percent of the roughly 1,200 students at Ridgely qualified for free or reduced meals in 2016, according to the Maryland Department of Education 2016 report card.
For Taylor-Mitchell is excited about the prospect of other PTAs starting up support rooms.