Children in poor Baltimore neighborhoods can get free meals this summer through an extension of the National School Lunch Program, city officials said Wednesday.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the Summer Food Service Program, which is expected to feed more than 20,000 children a day, will be available five days a week to children younger than 18. The program will run from June 17 to Aug. 16 and serve both breakfast and lunch at schools, rec centers and churches.
"I want to tell every parent who hears me: If you need support during the summer months, do not hesitate to go to BaltimoreHousing.org and find out where your young person can get a great meal," Rawlings-Blake said. "There is no excuse for any child living in an American city to go hungry."
The mayor spoke at City Hall before a group of about 40 second-graders from Brehms Lane Elementary School.
"It's our job, as adults in the community, to make sure that we nurture and provide opportunities for you to reach your fullest potential -- that means for you to reach whatever you dream for in life," she said.
The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the Baltimore Housing Office of Community Services.
It is one of many efforts under way to provide food to families living in poverty. For instance, the Family League of Baltimore City will serve dinner during the summer months at 100 sites and provide mobile meals from three locations.
On Monday, the Franciscan Center will launch its Fresh Harvest Community Supported Agriculture Program, intended to provide nutritious food to low-income Baltimoreans and help families incorporate the food into their daily meals.
From June until November, the center will provide seasonal produce from One Straw Farm, seasonings, recipes and basic cooking utensils to eligible families. Guest chefs will demonstrate how to prepare the food.
A ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. at 101 W. 23rd St. The event coincides with a United Way drive to collect more than 50,000 pounds of food for local soup kitchens, shelters and food banks.
In another effort, mail carriers will collect non-perishable food on May 11 for the Stamp Out Hunger food drive. Residents should place the items next to their mailbox. The letter carriers will pick up the donations and drop them off at local food banks.
For additional services, go to youthbmore.org or call the United Way help line at 211.