Caro­line school district con­tin­ues summer meal pro­gram

Times-Record - - Front Page - By DUSTIN HOLT dholt@ches­pub.com

— Summer is a time for play, relaxation and recharg­ing for stu­dents be­fore the up­com­ing school year.

But summer could also mean missed meals for chil­dren who get the ma­jor­ity of their meals through the school sys­tem.

Caro­line County Pub­lic Schools has been rec­og­nized for its in­no­vated food ser­vice pro­gram, pro­vid­ing free break­fast in the class­room and free lunch to stu­dents each school year.

Caro­line stu­dents don’t have to go hungr y when the summer bell rings be­cause the CCPS Food Ser­vices pro­vides free break­fast and lunch at three Caro­line Recre­ation and Parks five-week camps, at a camp at Ridgely Ele­men­tary while also pro­vid­ing a free lunches Mon­day through Fri­day to chil­dren 18 years old and un­der at the Caro­line County Pub­lic Li­brary in Den­ton.

“We want to feed kids. That is our mis­sion for Caro­line County Pub­lic Schools,” said CCPS Food Op­er­a­tions Man­ager Samantha Figueroa. “We need to pro­vide meals for chil­dren be­cause so many only get food when they are at school. Dur­ing the school year, they get break­fast ev­ery­day in the class­room, then get lunch. We have such a need in this com­mu­nity so we con­tinue the pro­gram through the summer.”

Caro­line schools be­gan its summer food pro­gram more than a decade ago in part­ner­ship with Caro­line County Recre­ation and

Parks, which hosts summer camps at Fed­er­als­burg, Greensboro and Den­ton. The meals at break­fast and lunch the stu­dents re­ceive are at no ex­tra charge for the campers. About 160 chil­dren were reg­is­tered for each camp, which ended in July. Lo­cal day­cares were wel­comed at the camps for free meals each day.

“The summer pro­gram, if they are en­rolled, is an­other way for us to meet that need with break­fast and lunch,” Figueroa said. “We have a great part­ner­ship with Parks and Recre­ation. We have run a very suc­cess­ful pro­gram for more than a decade. It has grown each year. Parks and Recre­ation does a fan­tas­tic job with their summer pro­grams.”

The Ridgely Lions Club as­sists Caro­line County Pub­lic Schools by mak­ing fruit do­na­tions through­out the year at Ridgely Ele­men­tary as part of the Fuel Up to Play 60.

This summer, the Lions Club do­nated more than 20 cases of fresh fruit at Caro­line County Pub­lic Schools. The fruit in­cluded or­anges, ba­nanas, grapes and nec­tarines.

“They have been great to us,” Figueroa said. “The Ridgely Lions Club dur­ing the school year do­nates fresh fruit to Ridgely Ele­men­tary quite of­ten, usu­ally ap­ples and or­anges. This summer they have been very help­ful with the summer camps.

“Hav­ing this fresh fruit is huge be­cause we put out sev­eral dif­fer­ent kinds each day,” she said. “We don’t open a can dur­ing the summer. We do a lot with lo­cal farms in Caro­line County. We have a lot of re­sources here, and ap­pre­ci­ate the or­ga­ni­za­tions and busi­nesses that do­nate to the pro­gram.”

The food ser­vice does not stop with the three camps. CCPS pro­vides free break­fast and lunch for a camp at Ridgely Ele­men­tar y.

Also in the last few years, Caro­line County Pub­lic Li­brary has part­nered with CCPS food ser­vices to pro­vide a free lunch to chil­dren 18 years old or younger. Food ser­vice staff packs meals at Den­ton Ele­men­tary, then the li­brary picks up the meals and serves them to any child for free at the Den­ton li­brary at 1 p.m.

The li­brary meal ser­vices also ex­tend through Au­gust.

“Den­ton Li­brary reached out to us be­cause they have kids who can’t af­ford to do the camp pro­gram, but come to the li­brary dur­ing the day and don’t have any­thing to eat,” Figueroa said. “We know the chil­dren at the li­brary are get­ting one good, sub­stan­tial meal at the li­brary in the summer. We will pack­age meals out of the Ch­e­sa­peake Culi­nary Cen­ter for the month of Au­gust for the li­brary.”

For more in­for­ma­tion on Caro­line County Pub­lic Schools Food Ser­vices, call the school board at 410-479-1460.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Camp coun­selor and Colonel Richard­son High grad­u­ate Chris Smith eats lunch with chil­dren at the Den­ton Ele­men­tary Caro­line Parks and Recre­ation summer camp.

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