As schools close for the summer, Maryland officials say they recognize that many children and families face difficult financial times and may be wondering where they can turn for free healthy meal options to keep their kids nourished throughout the summer months.
According to the Center for American Progress, the urgency to act in Maryland is high, given that 10 percent of house-holds are food insecure.
Officials say families can turn to 211 Maryland— the state’s central connector to health and human services— to find summer foods sites in their area as many school districts are offering free break-fast and lunch meals for children. The free program is an extension of the services offered during the school year.
“Families can begin receiving free meals now at one of the participating sites, which can be found on the Maryland Meals Site,” stated Quinton Askew, president, and CEO of 211 Maryland. Locations of the free meals site can be found at www.211md.org. Individuals can type in their address or zip codes to find the nearest place.
“Summer meal sites can change every year, so it’s best to check the database each year for the latest information,” Askew remarked. “Or, check with your local school district to find the organizations providing free summer meals for children.”
In addition to free meals, 211md.org features information and resources for families who might need summer programs for their children, including: summer camps and tutoring programs, Askew noted.
“There are several organizations throughout the state, including in Baltimore City, that offer free educational tutoring services for children,” he said. “Whether they need to keep up with reading, writing, and math, or need extra assistance because of the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has caused.”
Individuals can also search the 211 Maryland resource database of service providers to identify a tutoring program in specific areas quickly.
“Summer food programs are critical to families and children who need to extend their school’s free meal program through the summer months,” Askew asserted.
“There are families who may have experienced a trigger moment during the pandemic, like the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or challenges with making ends meet day-to-day.
“The free Summer Food Service Program can help alleviate the stress associated with feeding your family and ensuring they continue to have access to nutritious meals.”
For more information, visit www.211md.org.