Free Summer Student Meals To Continue

BERLIN – School systems in Worcester and Wicomico counties will once again offer free meals to students throughout the summer.

Beginning this month, schools and community sites will offer free breakfast, lunch and snacks to students through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program, which provides children and teens ages 18 and under with nutritious meals when school is not in session.

Odtis Collins, food service coordinator for Worcester County Public Schools, said nine school sites and seven community sites – located in areas with high percentages of students who receive free and reduced-price meals – will participate in this year’s program, which is administered by the state and sponsored by local school systems.

“Each community site is a little different,” he said. “Some do breakfast, and some do lunch. It’s based on the needs of the location.”

Collins noted that hundreds of students benefit from the program each year. Within a 28-day period last summer, for example, the school system served 24,130 meals through breakfast, lunch and snack programs offered at schools and other sites.

“Our program has grown tremendously,” he said.

This year the school system has added two new community sites in Pocomoke – one at Pocomoke Landing and another at Victoria Estates. Collins added that students do not have to be a resident of Worcester County to receive free meals at any of the community sites.

“We are making sure kids are still getting the same healthy meals we provide them during the school year …,” he said. “If you are under the age of 18, you can come to the site.”

Eric Goslee, food services director for Wicomico County Public Schools, said the federally funded program provides students access to free meals in safe and welcoming environments.

“It’s grown over the years,” he said. “It started out as feeding kids that came to summer school programs, and it branched out to feeding kids in the community.”

Goslee said community sites in Wicomico County include shelters and nearby neighborhoods, churches, playgrounds and more.

“For many of our community sites, it’s open,” he said. “You just have to show up.”

Goslee noted that nearly 600 meals are provided each day in Wicomico County through the Summer Food Service Program.

“Our program is nutritionally based, and it’s important that kids keep the continuity of nutritious meals during the summer and during the school year.”

In Worcester County, free breakfast and lunch will be provided at Pocomoke, Snow Hill and Buckingham elementary schools, Berlin Intermediate School, Pocomoke, Snow Hill and Stephen Decatur middle schools, and Pocomoke and Snow Hill high schools Monday through Thursday beginning in late June or early July.

Morning and afternoon snacks will be offered at Worcester County Recreation and Parks Monday through Friday from June 25-Aug. 17, while lunch and afternoon snacks will be served at Lower Shore Family YMCA from June 18-Aug. 17 and Pocomoke Landing, Victoria Estates in Pocomoke and Decatur Apartments in Berlin Monday through Thursday from June 25-Aug. 16. Lunch will also be served at the Windy Garden Apartments in Pocomoke Monday through Thursday from June 25-Aug. 16, while breakfast and lunch will be served in Snow Hill at Ebenezer United Methodist Church Monday through Thursday from June 25-Aug. 16.

For more information, contact Carrie Sterrs at 410-632-5092 or email cnsterrs@mail.worcester.k12.md.us.

In Wicomico County, meal service will be offered June 25-Aug. 2. For locations and serving times, visit www.MDSummerMeals.org. For more information, call 211 or text “FOOD” to 877 877, or call the Wicomico County Schools Food and Nutrition Office at 410-677-4442.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.