Contact: Kirsten Bokenkamp, firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-957-6611
Baltimore, Md. – July 25, 2013 – A new report released today by Maryland Hunger Solutions finds that afterschool meals are reaching more than triple the amount of low-income Maryland children than when the federally funded Afterschool Meal Program was first implemented in the state three years ago.
According to the report, Serving Maryland’s Children: The Afterschool Meal Program, every day during the 2011-2012 school year, an average of 11,433 children received meals at 440 afterschool programs in Maryland through the Afterschool Meal Program, an increase from 2009-2010, the first year of the program, when 126 afterschool programs served meals to 3,404 children per day.
The largest growth in average daily participation was seen in Baltimore City, and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.
“It is promising to see such a significant increase in the number of children being reached by the Afterschool Meal Program. As we look ahead to the start of a new school year, there are a number of steps counties can take to improve even further the reach of this program,” said Michael J. Wilson, Director of Maryland Hunger Solutions.
Collaboration was key to the growth. A partnership between Maryland State Department of Education, Maryland Hunger Solutions, the Maryland Out of School Time Network (MOST), and the Governor’s Office for Children (GOC) has been crucial to the successful launch and expansion of the Afterschool Meal Program at the state level. At the local level, Maryland Hunger Solutions convened community leaders to determine strategies for afterschool meals that would work best for their jurisdiction and the low-income children they serve.
Despite the significant gains made by Maryland, however, seven counties did not have an active afterschool supper site operating during the 2011-2012 school year, even though at least one eligible school existed in each county. The report offers recommendations that can assist any jurisdiction in the state to overcome barriers and expand participation.
“Afterschool meals help combat both hunger and obesity, keep youth engaged in learning and involved in safe activities while their parents are working, increase participation and retention rates for afterschool programs, and bring considerable amounts of federal dollars to the state, which bolsters local economies, said Wilson. “Maryland’s first three years of participating in the Afterschool Meal Program offers many valuable lessons and success stories that jurisdictions can use to improve the reach of this remarkable program.”
The Afterschool Meal Program provides funding so afterschool and youth development programs (like YMCA’s, Boys and Girls Clubs, church-based programs) in low-income areas can serve supper each weeknight to children in their care. In order to participate in the Afterschool Meal Program, sites must be located in a school attendance area in which 50 percent of more of the children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals; serve children who are 18 and under at the start of the school year; provide educational or enrichment activities; and meet local health and safety programs.
Maryland Hunger Solutions is the lead research, public education, and advocacy group in Maryland dedicated to using public programs to end hunger in Maryland. Maryland Hunger Solutions is an initiative of the Food Research and Action Center. For more information, visit mdhungersolutions.org or follow us on Twitter.