Because Baltimore City Public Schools believe good nutrition is critical to student achievement, they have committed to making sure all students receive nutritious meals this summer. Through the food service program, BCPS is making free meals available to all city schools’ students.

Beginning next week, Baltimore City Public Schools will be participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program. Meals will be provided to all children without charge.

“The kids come in the morning and get a breakfast and near the end of the day they get a lunch,” said Bruce Martin within the BCPS Office of Food and Nutrition. “The program is open to people 17 years old and younger. You do not have to be enrolled in summer school; you can just walk in and get a free breakfast or lunch, or both.”

Martin said BCPS has offered the Summer Meals program for years to help kids stay healthy even when the regular school year is over. But ultimately, the main goal is to fight hunger. “Once the school year is out, where do get their breakfast and lunch?” Martin said. “A lot of kids, once they leave school, don’t have their meals available to them. A lot of parents can’t afford nutritious meals.”

This year, 14 schools and several other locations will be designated for the food distribution. The Summer Meals program will be held 8 a.m. – 12 p.m., June 28 to Aug. 6.

“It’s been very good,” Martin said. “It’s very well liked and a whole lot of kids eat. Everything is free of charge, and very nutritious.”

The Baltimore City Housing Authority has a similar initiative, the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Administered by Baltimore Housing’s Office of Community Services, SFSP began serving breakfast and lunch to city residents age 18 years of age and younger on June 21 and will continue until Aug. 20.

“This is our sixth year doing it,” said Cheron Porter, director of communications for the Housing Authority.

Based on the current conditions of the economy, the city estimates that 825,000 lunches and 650,000 breakfasts will be served this summer. Over 44 days, the program will feed more than 30,000 children daily. Additionally, dinners will be available at 40 selected locations for the first time this summer.

Churches, recreation centers and other community organizations are expected to become feeding sites for the summer, totaling about 500 places for children to go for freshly-prepared, healthy meals. “Just as learning does not end when school lets out, neither does a child’s need for good nutrition,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. “Working together, we can ensure every child has the tools to be healthy, safe and active this summer.”?

Schools participating in the BCPS Summer Meals program are Cecil Elementary School, Lakeland Elementary/Middle School, Commodore John Rogers Elementary/Middle School, Coldstream Park Elementary School, Northeast Middle School, Hampden Elementary/Middle School, Mount Royal Elementary/Middle School, Lyndhurst Elementary School, James Mosher Elementary School, Dickey Hill Elementary/Middle School, Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle School, Graceland-O’Donnell Heights School, Baltimore Rising Stars Academy School and Frederick Douglass High School.

For more information on the BCPS Summer Meals program, call 410-396-8755. For more information on SFSP, or to become a meal-serving site, call Claudette Mitchener at 410-396-8385.