First Lady Katie O'Malley Serves Lunch and Visits Students at Buckingham Elementary
Talks to students about Nutrition and Being Healthy; Highlights Maryland's Partnership with Share Our Strength to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland
BERLIN, MD (June 30, 2009) –First Lady Katie O’Malley today served lunch to and visited with children at Buckingham Elementary School in Berlin, Maryland. The children are participants of the Summer Food Service Program, a service that provides access to free, nutritious meals during the summer months when school is not in session. First Lady O’Malley discussed the importance of nutrition and Governor O’Malley’s partnership with Share Our Strength to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland, an initiative that Governor O’Malley kicked off last year to ensure that Maryland’s children have access to the food they need to lead healthy, active lives.
“Especially during these tough economic times, families are struggling to make ends meet, and far too many kids aren’t getting the nutrition they need,” said First Lady Katie O’Malley. “Too often, kids from the most vulnerable families go to school hungry and go to bed hungry. And for many kids throughout Maryland and across the country, school breakfasts and lunches are their main source of consistent nourishment. That’s why we need to make sure we offer them the healthiest meals possible.”
First Lady O’Malley was joined by approximately 87 kids who enjoyed a lunch consisting of whole wheat, reduced fat pepperoni pizza, carrot sticks, chilled pears and milk. School lunch programs provide at least 33% of a student’s recommended daily allowance for key nutrients.
In Maryland, more than 152,000 children live below the poverty line, and nearly 87,000 Maryland households have children who participate in the Food Supplement Program. The Partnership to End Childhood Hunger will help reach children at risk of hunger in Maryland by increasing participation in highly effective but under-utilized federal food and nutrition programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), the Summer Food Service Program, School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. The Partnership will bring additional federal funds to the State of Maryland in order to increase enrollment and participation in existing programs.
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) provides cash reimbursement for meals served at eligible sites across the State of Maryland when school is not in session. The SFSP is a U.S. Department of Agriculture program, administered by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), that helps children receive the nutrition they need to learn, play, and grow throughout the summer. In the summer of 2008 alone, over 2.2 million Summer Meals were served in Maryland. Organizations, including schools, camps, and nonprofits serving low-income students or located in high need areas, are eligible to participate.
Maryland served 2,268,550 summer meals at nearly 900 sites in summer 2008 and last year, the program helped nearly 60,000 Maryland students return to school in the fall ready to learn.
Fifty-eight percent of the students at Buckingham Elementary are eligible for free or reduced priced meals, and 36 percent of students in Worcester County were eligible for free or reduced priced meals in the 2008-2009 school year. Last summer, Worcester County served 22, 235 summer meals, serving meals to an average of 684 children each day.
To maximize the positive impact of these school-based nutrition programs on students and the State’s economy, last year the Jane Lawton Farm to School program enabled school systems to provide fresh, locally grown products in school lunches. Worcester County Schools provided local tomato salad and watermelon to students during Homegrown School Lunch Week in September. Discussions are underway to expand this program and to include local products in the Summer Food Service Program in the future. For more information on Farm to School, visit www.marylandfarmtoschool.org.
Earlier this year, First Lady Katie O’Malley partnered with the University of Maryland to encourage Maryland families to improve health and save money by growing fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs using sustainable practices. The campaign hopes to encourage one million Marylanders to produce their own affordable, healthy food. More information on the campaign and the University of Maryland’s Master Gardener program can be found at www.growit.umd.edu.