BCPL celebrates summer meal program
“It’s hard to have summer fun on an empty stomach,” was the message promoted at the Summer Meals Celebration held at the Rosedale branch library on Thursday, July 19. The event aimed to raise awareness and support for the Summer Food Service Program which provides free meals to Baltimore County children during the summer.
“Summer is supposed to be a time for fun, but for some kids that don’t have access to meals, it can be a time of stress,” said Kara Panowitz, a senior manager at No Kids Left Hungry Maryland.
The Baltimore County Summer and After School Meal Meal Coalition was formed to focus on the wellbeing of area students by providing free and nutritious meals throughout the County.
The organization is made up of school staff and representatives, meal sponsors, county agencies, political officials, and non-profits, and is monitored by the State Department of Education.
The coalition, said Panowitz, was started 4 years ago and “has come a long way and has really helped us increase access to kids who are getting meals during the summer and also after school.”
Lunches are provided Monday through Friday at area branches of the Baltimore County Public Library from Wednesday, June 20 – Friday, August 24, and both breakfast and lunch will be served at select schools from Monday, July 9 – Friday, August 3.
“There’s a lot of need in Baltimore County,” said Councilwoman Cathy Bevins (D-6).
In the school year 2017-18, 43.79% of Baltimore County students were eligible for free or reduced lunches, which adds up to around 49,941 students. However, the number of meals served since the program began has increased. In the summer of 2017, around 348,000 meals were served, up from 122,000 in previous years.
Bevins added that there is still work to be done since many local families don’t know the programs exist. She encouraged the crowd to spread the word.
The star of the event was Qadry Ismail, a former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver. Ismail said the free meal program was important to him because he has many fond memories spending summer in the library, eating meals and making friends.
“These aftercare programs in the summer are so vital and so critically important for all our communities, to help our young kids grow to be strong, and be able to be the next generation of change.”
The provided breakfast will consist of a cereal bar, a breakfast bar, or a muffin served with fruit or juice, and milk. For lunch, the program offers a deli sandwich, fruit or vegetable, juice or frozen treat, and milk.
Ten Baltimore County libraries provide free meals.
“We know that for kids to be well-read, they need to be well-fed,” said Natalie Edington, the assistant director of BCPL.
Baltimore County Public Schools and Baltimore County Public Library are equal opportunity providers. Acceptance and participation requirements for the program and all activities are
the same for all regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. Participating locations include:
Essex branch, 1110 Eastern Blvd., 21221, at 1 p.m.
North Point branch, 1716 Merritt Blvd., 21222, at 12 p.m.
Rosedale branch, 6105 Kenwood Ave., 21237, at
White Marsh branch, 8133 Sandpiper Cir., 21236, at 12 p.m.
Bear Creek Elementary, 1601 Melbourne Rd. – Breakfast, 8:30 a.m. & Lunch, 12 p.m.
Chase Elementary, 1170 Eastern Ave. – Breakfast, 9:15 a.m. & Lunch, 12:45 p.m.
Deep Creek Elementary, 1101 East Homberg Ave. – Breakfast, 8:30 a.m. & Lunch, 12 p.m.
Grange Elementary, 2000 Church Rd. – Breakfast, 9:15 a.m. & Lunch, 12:45 p.m.
Holabird Middle, 1701 Delvale Ave. – Breakfast, 7:45 a.m. & Lunch, 11:15 a.m.
Logan Elementary, 7601 Dunmanway – Breakfast, 8:30 a.m. & Lunch, 12 p.m.
Norwood Elementary, 1700 Delvale Ave. – Breakfast, 9:15 a.m. & Lunch, 12:45 p.m.
Oakleigh Elementary, 1900 White Oak Ave. –Breakfast, 8:30 a.m. & Lunch, 12 p.m.
Sandalwood Elementary, 900 South Marlyn Ave. – Breakfast, 8:30 a.m. & Lunch, 12 p.m.
Qadry Ismail, a former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver, poses with children at the Rosedale Library.
The event’s other special guest was a 4 week old calf from Fawn View Farm. One of the event sponsors was the American Dairy Association North East.