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Summer and after-school meal programs in Washington Co. expand thanks to $45,000 grant

August 09, 2013|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Deyanira Agusta, left, of Hagerstown, picks up two free lunch bags from Anita Heefner with the Washington County Board of Education Friday morning at Courtland Manor in Hagerstown. At far left is Agusta's son Caleb Agusta, 4.
By Joe Crocetta / Staff Photographer

The Washington County Community Action Council has received a $45,000 grant to expand its summer and after-school meal programs.

The grant money, which came from the Walmart Foundation, was funneled through the National League of Cities.

Under the program, meals in the summer have been provided every weekday in the parking lot between Cortland Apartments and Cortland Mansion from 11 a.m. to 11:35 a.m. and at Otterbein United Methodist Church from 12 to 12:35 p.m. 

“We’re very fortunate we’ve been able to receive the grant to allow us to finish out this program year and also expand the program during the winter with after-school meals, and then looking at expanding with a vehicle for a summer program next year,” said Dave Jordan, executive director of the action council.

Friday was the last day for the summer meals, which began in early June. Anyone 18 and under was eligible to receive a meal, Jordan said.

“This has been a tremendous benefit for the children, because some of these kids weren’t getting a good nutritious meal for lunch, maybe not getting good nutritious meals for three meals everyday,” he said. “This has helped to enhance what their ability is to have a nutritious meal.”

On Friday, the meals, which are served out of a truck, were grilled cheese sandwiches. More than 1,000 meals a week were probably being served at both sites, Jordan said.

Dawn Gordon, who drove the truck and helped to serve the meals for the summer,  described the task as a “joy.”

“It’s been a pleasure to serve these kids, because you get to know them personally and the parents that come up with them,” she said. “It’s just been an awesome.”

Gordon said that the minors she is serving are also looking for more than just meals when they arrive at the truck.

“They come up here and look for friendships and points of advice and fun,” she said. “We do have other things that come in, like we had a lady come in and face-paint for us one day.”

In addition to the meal truck, a bookmobile from the Washington County Free Library was also at the site at Cortland for a few days each week, where Jordan said the juveniles could read or check out books.

The bookmobile was a way to attract people to the site, he said.

Other programs throughout the summer included the Walnut Street Community Health Center providing dental services, and a food drive run by the Maryland Food Bank in which families could participate.

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