The success of the Summer Food Service Program requires effective collaboration at all levels to overcome barriers that inhibit participation. Federal, state, and local agencies and community organizations can work together effectively to assess where low-income children are located in the summer, determine how to get nutritious meals to sites in those areas, and utilize both government and private dollars to provide quality summer enrichment programming and meals to children in need when school is out.
Many promising practices are emerging in the state, and Maryland Hunger Solutions has created this page to highlight this work. Quite simply, when communities are actively engaged and committed, fewer children go hungry during the summer months.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS)—Anne Arundel County
The commitment and leadership of local school systems can make or break the Summer Food Service Program throughout Maryland. In Anne Arundel County, the Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) helped facilitate the success of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in Anne Arundel County. In 2011, an additional 456 children were served each day in Anne Arundel County, a 25.3 percent increase from 2010. The active involvement and strong leadership of the school system, including directly targeting and engaging principals of high need schools and increasing outreach to families to raise awareness of the availability of sites, was critical in reaching more children through Summer Nutrition Programs. Such involvement led to an additional 12 sites being developed for summer 2011, many of which were sponsored by AACPS and were “open” sites available to all children in the neighborhoods surrounding the schools. To ensure that, wherever children and teens may be in the summer, they will have access to a healthy, nutritious meal when school is out, AACPS works collaboratively with the other Anne Arundel County sponsors to develop sites across the county; including the Annapolis Housing Department and the Maryland Food Bank, as well as the County Parks and Rec Department.
Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS)—Frederick County
With Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) operating as a sponsor for the first time in 2011, Frederick County experienced a 58.1 percent increase in the number of children receiving summer meals. By establishing summer sites at high need schools in the county, maintaining summer programming, and providing outreach to families through the schools, FCPS was able to serve 2,500 children daily at five participating sites. Frederick County’s immense leap in participation in 2011 is a result of the school system’s participation in the program, further underscoring the critical role local school systems play in reaching more more low-income children during the summer months.. In addition to the success of FCPS as a sponsor of summer meals, it is important to note that the increased number of children served summer meals in Frederick County can also be attributed to the other sponsor operating in the county, the Frederick Community Action Agency. This shows that the involvement of the school system can support the work of already-established sponsors and sites.
Summer Outreach Walkersville Area Churches (SOWAC)—Frederick County
An ingenious approach to addressing hunger in a local community demonstrates the critical role faith-based organizations can play in the Summer Nutrition Programs. When a representative from Frederick County Public Schools let Walkersville area churches know that children in their community were at risk for hunger in the summer months, a group of local churches —Summer Outreach Walkersville Area Churches (SOWAC) —sprang into action. Each SOWAC member church took responsibility for hosting and staffing one week of meal service at the local community site. The churches even raised money to build a pavilion on site to expand feeding capacity and allow meals to be eaten outside, even in the event of inclement weather. During summer 2011, the community site served 3,000 more lunches than the previous year thanks to the aid of SOWAC.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools Pilot Mobile Meals Project
Transportation proves to be a major barrier for many families when it comes to participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs. To overcome this barrier, Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) sponsored an innovative mobile meals project in summer 2012, delivering lunches to five sites in underserved, low-income neighborhoods across Anne Arundel County. Maryland Hunger Solutions partnered with AACPS to help fund an intervention specialist to ride along on the bus, as well as to provide free meals for adults to encourage participation. The bus was donated by the school system and staffed by community volunteers and a Maryland Hunger Solutions summer VISTA. Over the course of the summer, more than 5,637 meals were served to children in need in the community through the project, with 200 to 400 meals served daily. Due to the project’s success, AACPS plans to launch an additional mobile meal route in 2013. Additionally, through the Baltimore City Partnership, the Family League of Baltimore, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, and Maryland Hunger Solutions are planning to launch a mobile meals project in Baltimore City in 2013, using combined resources to replicate the successful project in Anne Arundel County. Other jurisdictions implementing mobile meal projects in 2013 include Charles County, Prince George’s County, and Washington County.
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) – Montgomery County
Recognizing that the nutritional needs of children cannot always be met at school during the summer, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Food and Nutrition Services established a Summer Meals Outreach Workgroup to provide a collaborative framework for identifying where children are in the summer and making sure they have access to free summer meals where it is convenient for them. MCPS invited school administrators and staff, anti-hunger advocates, local elected officials, community and faith-based organizations, and the local food bank to join the workgroup and collectively work on an outreach campaign to local libraries, camps, housing developments and community groups in eligible areas to let them know that MCPS, serving as a sponsor, could provide free meals for the children in their programs and the surrounding community. Marla Caplon, MCPS FNS Director, leads the workgroup with a strong commitment to ensuring that if there are children in need of free summer meals in the County, the group can find a way to serve them. As a result of the hard work of this group, MCPS served more than 320,000 meals last year through the Summer Food Service Program.
The Family League of Baltimore—Baltimore City
The Family League of Baltimore is the largest Afterschool Meal Program sponsor in the state, and quickly found the benefit in continuing to provide supper to children during the summer months. In 2011, an additional 43,163 suppers were served to children during the summer in Baltimore City. The highest level of supper meals served in the summer was recorded in Baltimore City last year, totaling 78,563 in 2011. Providing supper during the summer months has proved a natural transition for those organizations, such as the Family League of Baltimore, that already participate in the Afterschool Meal Program during the school year. While a single sponsor cannot serve both lunch and supper through the Summer Food Service Program, the Family League partners with summer lunch sponsors in the City, such as the Housing Authority of Baltimore City and Baltimore City Public Schools, in order to provide supper for the children in their programs. This collaboration has been incredibly successful in insuring that children have access to healthy and nutritious meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, during the summer months.