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Holiday Break Can Break MD Family Food Budgets

PHOTO: The Maryland 'No Kid Hungry' campaign says it's tough for families to stretch food budget during school holiday break, but there are ways to help. Photo credit: Alex Cummings

PHOTO: The Maryland 'No Kid Hungry' campaign says it's tough for families to stretch food budget during school holiday break, but there are ways to help. Photo credit: Alex Cummings


December 16, 2013

BALTIMORE - Holiday break means no school for the kids, and for some, it may mean fewer meals as well. Molly McCloskey, director of the Maryland "No Kid Hungry" campaign, explained that families can't always stretch their food budgets to provide more weekday meals, let alone put a special Christmas dinner on the table. She said 270,000 Maryland children depend on SNAP food assistance, and those benefits were reduced last month.

"What's scary this time of year is that with schools closed, those quarter-of-a-million and more kids won't be getting breakfast and lunch at school, putting a new burden on budgets that have already been cut," she said.

While SNAP decisions are up to Congress, there are things Marylanders can do to help. According to McCloskey, tax-deductible donations are welcome for Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign, and several big brand names are participating in "shop for good" promotions, exclusive items and events that benefit No Kid Hungry. Some of those names: Williams-Sonoma, American Express, Tastefully Simple and Hickory Farms.

McCloskey said Marylanders are known for their generosity, and it's helpful to remember that hunger isn't a seasonal problem.

"While the generous spirit of giving is a part of the holidays, making a family practice of donating your time, your talent, your treasure, can help bring families back into situations where they are no longer dependent on these benefits."

One bright spot of news: Donations help No Kid Hungry connect children to meals not just during the holidays, but year-round. Just one dollar can help connect a child in need to up to 10 meals. McCloskey added that the number of families across the country using SNAP has declined. She pointed to that as an indicator that the economic recovery is finally reaching those on the lowest end of the income scale.

To make a donation to the No Kid Hungry campaign, visit bit.ly/19r4wNT. For more information on holiday gifts that give back, visit prn.to/19r4lST.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD