Carroll County Public Schools has the smallest percentage of students who qualify for the free and reduced-price meal program in the state of Maryland. That’s a good thing. Yet, sadly, even at that rate, roughly 1 in every 5 kids is eligible for the FARMs program, according to the most recent data from the Maryland State Department of Education.
For some of those kids, the free and reduced-price meals they receive at school might be the only food that gets them through the day. That’s a problem in the summer months, once schools close, for children of food-insecure families.
To ensure those children don’t fall through the cracks, Carroll County Public Schools has been working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program to offer free meals at various sites throughout the summer.
In summer 2017, about 4,500 lunches were provided to Carroll County children through the effort. Carroll’s program is held in high regard by the USDA, as one of three Maryland winners of a silver level Turnip the Beet Award, which recognizes agencies participating in the summer meals program for serving nutritious and appealing meals during the summer months. In particular, the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s reviewer noted the amount of fresh produced made available.
In 2018, lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday, June 25 to July 20, at Friendship Valley Elementary School in Westminster; July 23 to Aug. 3, at Francis Scott Key High School; and June 28, July 10, 12, 19, 20, 26, 27, and Aug. 6-17 at Taneytown Elementary School.
Suppers will also be served from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday, through June 28 and July 9 to Aug. 2 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Taneytown, through the program.
Anyone 18 or younger can go to a participating location and get a free meal, regardless of their financial situation or eligibility for the FARMs program, although the locations are chosen based on data reflecting the proximity of low-income families, so that it can reach the most children in need. Students do not need to pre-register, just show up.
Community groups that serve large proportions of children from low- to moderately low-income households may also be eligible to partner with CCPS Food Services to provide meals through the program, thereby reaching even more kids. For example, recreation and parks programs, day cares and vacation Bible schools may be eligible. To find out if a program meets the criteria to receive free meals, call 410-751-3041 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more, visit www.mdsummermeals.org, or call 2-1-1 anytime for information about summer meal programs, and other health and human resources available in the community.