Members of the Harford County Board of Education bit into apples with a hearty crunch during their Monday meeting to symbolize the school system's commitment to ending child hunger.
Jillian Lader, spokesperson for Harford County Public Schools, asked board members to step down from their dais for a "special ceremonial act that signifies Harford County Public Schools is joining others all across the state in an effort to end child hunger."
Lader said school officials are working with Maryland Hunger Solutions to "hear the Maryland crunch," which she described as "a fun statewide apple crunch" scheduled for Wednesday, which was also Maryland Day, the state holiday to commemorate the founding of the Maryland colony.
Hear the Maryland Crunch is an initiative of the nonprofit Maryland Hunger Solutions, during which people across the state bit into an apple at the same time to raise awareness of childhood hunger in the state, according to Maryland Hunger Solutions' website.
Lader said the campaign is designed to highlight how school breakfast programs help combat child hunger.
Gary Childress, supervisor of food and nutrition for HCPS, and his staffers gave apples to each school board member and Superintendent Barbara Canavan.
"Mr. Childress has provided ripe local apples so each of you can bite into an apple at the same time making a crunch to be heard across the state," Lader said.
School officials bit into the juicy apples and joked with each other as they posed for pictures of them crunching.
Summer food program honored
Harford County schools received a certificate of appreciation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture honoring the school system's summer food service program, through which local school children can get meals each day even when schools are closed for the summer.
"I don't believe that there is a better food service group in the state of Maryland," Canavan said.
Canavan read from the certificate, which stated the school system was being honored for its "commitment to strengthening the summer food service program through increasing [food service] sites, improving food quality and maintaining program integrity."
The school system has been serving more than 1,000 meals each day for about 20 years through the summer program, and food and nutrition officials established a mobile program, which allowed staffers to travel to various neighborhoods around the county and serve lunches to children.
School officials plan to have the mobile food service program again this summer.
Winter sportsmanship awards
School officials recognized several athletic teams and their coaches for sportsmanship displayed by players during the winter interscholastic sports season, as they were selected as Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference and HCPS sportsmanship award winners.
The Bel Air High School boys basketball and Fallston High School girls basketball teams won sportsmanship awards in the UCBAC Chesapeake Division, and the Havre de Grace High School boys basketball team won in the Susquehanna Division.
The boys and girls swim teams from Joppatowne High School were sportsmanship award winners at the school system level.
Student-athletes and coaches spoke about the value of sportsmanship.
Brian Eberhardt, head coach of the Havre de Grace boys' basketball team, noted the school's football team also earned a sportsmanship award this year for the fall season.
"I think that speaks volumes about the student-athletes that we have at Havre de Grace, about our administration, and them really stressing sportsmanship," he said.
Eberhardt also acknowledged the parents in the audience and their contributions to teaching sportsmanship.
"That starts at home with a lot of our kids," he said.