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Thousands of Maryland Children Go Hungry During Summer

Many parents and guardians don't know where children can get free summer meals. (Christine Marie Fletcher)
Many parents and guardians don't know where children can get free summer meals. (Christine Marie Fletcher)
June 1, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - About a quarter of a million children in Maryland rely on free and reduced-price school breakfast and lunch programs during the school year. but when summer rolls around, many of these children go hungry, according to the anti-hunger group Hunger Free America.

Meals and snacks are served throughout the state at schools, community centers and other places in neighborhoods, but the problem is that many people don't know where to go. Hunger Free America is pushing toll-free nationwide numbers -- 1-866-3-HUNGRY for English speakers and 1-877-8-HAMBRE for Spanish speakers -- that provide information about where children can get free meals.

"About 80 percent of the kids who get school lunch on a daily basis don't get summer meals, primarily because they just don't know where sites are," said Joel Berg, Hunger Free America's chief executive.

Berg said hunger is a national problem that needs a federal solution, not just lip service by politicians.

"You can't go to a food pantry and cut a ribbon and then vote for a child nutrition bill that takes meals away from hungry kids and claim you're a hunger fighter," he said. "That's what some in Congress are doing these days."

Feeding America's "Map the Meal Gap" report for Maryland shows the food insecurity rate at about 13 percent, which equals roughly 760,000 residents. The report is online at feedingamerica.org.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD