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Baltimore County schools wisely invests in student nutrition | READER COMMENTARY

Mary LaMarche, satellite kitchen assistant at Bel Air Elementary school, left, helps student Soledad Grijalva, right, as she makes her way through the lunch line last spring. File.
Mary LaMarche, satellite kitchen assistant at Bel Air Elementary school, left, helps student Soledad Grijalva, right, as she makes her way through the lunch line last spring. File. (Matt Button / The Aegis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Congratulations to the Baltimore County Board of Education and the Baltimore County Public Schools administration for ensuring that all students in at least 66 schools countywide will be offered breakfast and lunch at no charge to them for at least the next four years. With widespread support from the community, the school board voted unanimously on July 14 to implement the Community Eligibility Provision this summer in all county schools that qualify for the program. The program means no more lunch shaming, school meal debt, or paperwork for the parents of over 45,000 students in more than 66 schools — over 40% of all schools in the system.

Cheers are also in order for Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. who has prioritized the needs of children at risk of hunger and food insecurity. Full participation in CEP was included in his blueprint for the county which was published in 2019 after his election.

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The federal deadline to opt into CEP is Aug. 31. BCPS must provide a complete list of all county schools where CEP will be implemented to the Maryland State Department of Education before then.

The system’s commitment to implementing CEP in all eligible schools is especially important now as the pandemic has resulted in a huge increase in the number of families struggling to make ends meet. We look forward to the list of participating schools being shared with the public and plan to celebrate the creation of the new “Hunger Free Schools” after Aug. 31.

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Laurie Taylor-Mitchell, Towson

The writer is president of the Student Support Network.

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