13 sites offer free meals to county kids
— As summer gets into full swing, more than a dozen places throughout the county will offer free meals to local kids and teenagers for the next several weeks.
Kids under age 18 can get free breakfast and lunch at any of the 13 sites scattered around Elkton, Perryville and North East. Adults can also eat at these locations but must pay $3.50, said Geoffrey Sudzina, Cecil County Public Schools assistant in Food & Nutrition Services.
Several of these sites started serving free meals earlier this month while others will begin doing so on Wednesday. All the meals are made out of the Elkton High School and North East Middle School kitchens, and Sudzina estimates that in total, the two locations make between 400 and 500 meals a day.
Roughly 45 percent of CCPS students qualify for free and reduced meals (FARM) and the summer program provides these students with the chance to get a nutritious meal even when school is out, Sudzina said.
“I think it’s important that everyone get a healthy meal,” he said. “It’s a great program.”
The Cecil County program is part of the federally-funded and state-administered Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which is run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2015, 66,000 sites throughout the country served more than 190 million meals, according to the USDA.
In Cecil County, hot lunches, which include chicken patty sandwiches, pizza, grilled cheese and hamburgers, are offered Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, a cold lunch of various
sandwiches is offered. All those meals come with apple sauce, raisins, milk and a side of vegetables or fruit.
For breakfast, kids get a choice of Golden Grahams or Cinnamon Toast Crunch plus juice, animal crackers and milk.
Many of the sites that serve meals in Cecil County are longtime participants in the program. Sudzina said he’s especially appreciative of the community sites that have to transport the meals and undergo training to participate.
“It’s really a community effort to feed these kids,” he said.
While the program does receive walk-ins, many of the kids who eat the meals are already at the sites to participate in activities such as Boys & Girls Clubs or ACTIVATE summer camps, Sudzina added.
At North East Middle School, the majority of the participants are Boys & Girls Clubs of Cecil County campers who come over from the clubhouse located next door.
While North East Middle is one of the program’s more heavily used sites, Sudzina said
“I really wish more people would use this program,” he said.
Boys & Girls Club staffers pass out free lunches to students at North East Middle School on Tuesday.
Boys & Girls Club campers line up for a free pizza lunch at North East Middle School on Tuesday.