Montgomery County Expands Free Nutritional Summer Lunch Program
At Monday, June 29, Event at Rolling Terrace Elementary, County Leaders Will Discuss How Federal Funding Has Helped Expand Program for Students
ROCKVILLE, Md., June 25, 2009—Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin, Council President Phil Andrews, Councilmember Mike Knapp, County School Board Member Christopher S. Barclay and Superintendent of Schools Jerry D. Weast will join students for lunch at Rolling Terrace Elementary School in Takoma Park at 11 a.m. on Monday, June 29, and will discuss the expansion of free walk-in sites for the summer lunch program.
The program will have a total of six free walk-in sites this summer, an increase from the five sites of last year. The summer lunch program is aimed at increasing the number of children who have healthy food options during the summer.
“Hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation,” said Councilmember Ervin, who chairs the County Council’s Education Committee and represents District 5, which includes Kensington, Silver Spring, Takoma Park and Wheaton. “That’s why I have pushed to expand these sites, especially for children who qualify for free and reduced meals.”
Rolling Terrace Elementary, located at 705 Bayfield Street in the Silver Spring International High School Cluster, was chosen as one of the County’s newest free lunch sites based on research compiled by an inter-agency working group. The working group identified children’s lack of access to food as a significant barrier to academic achievement and nutrition during the summer.
Nearly 30 percent of Montgomery County Public Schools students qualify for Free and Reduced Meals (FARMs), a poverty indicator and a figure that may be higher due to underreporting.
“The current economic crisis has forced more people than ever before to ask for public assistance,” said Councilmember Ervin. “The summer food program is federally funded, so as local policy makers, it’s our responsibility to tap into as many resources as we can to assist our children and families, which includes those in poverty and those who may just need a helping hand.”
Montgomery County Public Schools provides summer lunches for students enrolled in more than 120 summer programs throughout the County. Rolling Terrace will be one of six free walk-in sites, which means that students not registered for a summer camp or recreation program can still stop in and eat a nutritious lunch. All free walk-in sites are located in areas where at least 50 percent of students are eligible for FARMS.
“Sufficient nutrition is vital for a child’s overall development,” said Councilmember Ervin. “By reducing socio-economic disparities and breaking down structural barriers, we hope to diminish the achievement gap between our county’s students.”
In addition to Rolling Terrace, the new free walk-in lunch sites include Georgian Forest Elementary (which became an open lunch site in 2008), Maryvale Elementary, Strathmore Elementary, Summit Hall Elementary and Kennedy High School.
In 2008, the addition of one free site and 25 program sites led to a 30 percent increase in the number of meals served. In 2009, the number of meals served will increase with expansion to six free sites and more than 120 programmed sites.
“I want to thank Principal Jennifer Connors who has agreed to host the summer food program at Rolling Terrace Elementary,” said Councilmember Ervin. “Her efforts are greatly appreciated not only by Councilmembers and School Board members, but also by the students who will benefit from this program.”