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Washington County students offered free meals through August

June 27, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- It's been said there's no such thing as a free lunch.

Well, there is for Washington County Public Schools students.

Through August, students are eligible for free breakfast and lunch at area schools. Some sites are offering meals to all students; others are open only to students living in poverty.

Sharon Walker, assistant supervisor for food and nutrition services, said about 2,000 students have participated in the breakfast and lunch program so far this summer.

There are more than 20 schools offering the meals, she said.

"During the summer, students are not going to school every day, and for many, that's where they get their free breakfast and lunch," Walker said. "We make sure they have a nutritious meal."

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Students living in poverty are offered free or reduced-price meals during the school year according to their parents' income.

The number of sites and students participating in the summer's offerings have increased since last year, Walker said. Last summer, all elementary students ate breakfast and lunch at Salem Avenue Elementary School, and all middle and high school students ate at North Hagerstown High School.

"This year, we wanted it to be more localized," Walker said. "Students can go to their neighborhood school."

At seven sites, free meals will be available to children who meet income eligibility guidelines and participate in the program. Those sites are Paramount Elementary School; Boonsboro, Clear Spring and Smithsburg middle schools; and Boonsboro, Clear Spring and Smithsburg high schools.

At fifteen sites, free meals will be available to all students, regardless of income. Those sites are Bester, Eastern, Fountaindale, Hancock, Hickory, Lincolnshire, Salem Avenue and Winter Street elementary schools; E. Russell Hicks, Northern, Springfield and Western Heights middle schools; and North Hagerstown, South Hagerstown and Williamsport high schools.

Free meals were served at Bester Elementary earlier this month.

The free meals are funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which also pays for the free and reduced-price meals during the school year.

The summer food service program began nationally in 1968.

"Our Summer Food Service Program provides free, nutritious meals and snacks to help children in low-income areas during the summer months," USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Nancy Montanez Johner said. "Studies show a direct link between good nutrition and a child's ability to learn, play and grow. Just because it is summer does not mean the need for good nutrition ends."

Walker said meals also are being distributed at area playgrounds by the local Community Action Council. The group is giving out about 400 free lunches at seven playgrounds in Hagerstown.

"It's a nutritious meal," Walker said. "Students have to have their carrots and their fruit as well as their entrees. Fruits, veggies, bread ... it's a balanced meal. And milk, of course."




Free meal schedule by location



Free meals for all students, regardless of income, are available at the following schools:

  • Elementary: Eastern (July 14-24); Fountaindale (July 21-31); Hancock (Through July 31); Hickory (Through July 31); Lincolnshire (August 4-7); Salem Avenue (July 21-31; August 4-6); Winter Street (August 4-13)

  • Middle: E. Russell Hicks, Northern, Springfield and Western Heights (June 30 to July 24)

  • High: North Hagerstown (June 16 to July 31); South Hagerstown and Williamsport (Through July 31)

    Free meals for students who meet income eligibility guidelines and participate in the program are available at the following schools.

  • Elementary: Paramount (July 22-31)

  • Middle: Boonsboro, Clear Spring and Smithsburg (June 30 to July 24)

  • High: Boonsboro, Clear Spring and Smithsburg (Through July 31)

    For details about times and offerings, call Washington County Public Schools at 301-766-2890.

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