ELLICOTT CITY, MD – In an effort to make sure students and families can access healthy food during the summer months, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball joined local and state officials, the Howard County Public Schools System and community partners on Tuesday to promote options for no-cost meals and groceries this summer for those in need. Photos of the event can be found here.
During the school year, many Howard County children take advantage of free or reduced-price meals to meet their needs, but when school is out in the summer, our families still need options. Our community has a tradition of stepping up during challenging times, and as inflation and supply change challenges increases the cost of groceries, the need is greater than ever. We are proud that there are many options to make sure families have the food they need this summer.
HCPSS Summer Meals Program
HCPSS is operating its free summer meals program from June 27th – August 12th from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. this summer at six different locations around the county. Meals will be provided at no cost to HCPSS students, and any children aged 18 and under at the sites listed below. There are no applications, enrollment, or fees to participate in this program.
- Laurel Woods Elementary School, 9250 N Laurel Rd., Laurel
- Oakland Mills Middle School, 9540 Kilimanjaro Rd., Columbia
- Swansfield Elementary School, 5610 Cedar Lane, Columbia
- Thomas Viaduct Middle School, 7000 Banbury Dr., Hanover
- Howard High School, 8700 Old Annapolis Rd., Ellicott City
- Howard County Library System East Columbia Branch, 6600 Cradlerock Way, Columbia
The Roving Radish Marketplace, open year-round in Long Reach Village Center, brings diary, meats and produce from local farms and sells it to the community. The Marketplace is open to anyone and through the support of the Local Children’s Board Healthy Food Access Program, families who are income-qualified are provided a 50% subsidy on the groceries or meal kits bought at the Marketplace.
Lisbon Food & Fun
Lisbon Food & Fun provides hot meals to go, meal kits, and weekend snack packs July 7th to August 11th from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. at the Lisbon United Methodist Church.
For the past two summers, the Local Children’s Board has been operating the Lisbon Food and Fun summer program. While a significant portion of Howard County residents live within proximity to food banks, summer feeding sites and mobile meals, rural western Howard County does not have this luxury. The program served 25 families in its first year and over 40 families last year.
Faith Based Community Food Access Grants
Throughout the past two years, the County has leveraged federal COVID-19 relief dollars to provide food access grants to multiple faith community partners. Through these grants, the county was able to reach thousands more families providing consistent access to food directly in community.
With the continued rise in the cost of groceries and families still feeling the full weight of the pandemic, the County invested $100k in FY23 to continue to provide these grants to the faith community. The grant program will support faith organizations who are providing direct assistance to individuals and families who are experiences hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath with food, utility, and essential needs assistance. Acceptable uses of the funds include food, clothing, essential household supplies and medicines and direct financial relief.
Additionally, SNAP benefits for the summer of 2023 have been expanded. Governor Larry Hogan recently increased the program budget to $4.8 million to expand the program statewide and serve more children.
Howard County’s Summer 2023 program, administered by the Department of Social Services, will be providing benefits to all Howard County youth ages 5-15 years old who had active SNAP as of May 2022. Howard County’s Summer SNAP Program budget is $543,300, with $372,100 in state funding and $171,200 in county funding.
“Summer food access programs are essential to providing affordable, healthy meals for Marylanders and reducing food insecurity in our state. Howard County has a strong network of institutions and partners working to fill the nutrition gap and increase access to healthy foods,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “I applaud the County for activating that network to meet the needs of children and families throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and over the coming summer months. I will continue working to expand these efforts on a national scale and build on the progress of the Keeping Kids Fed Act, which President Biden signed into law last week, to bolster student nutrition assistance programs.”
“Nearly one in six Howard County residents are concerned about running out of food before they can afford to buy more for their family,” said Council Vice Chair Christiana Rigby. “As a society, we must work to ensure that no student goes hungry and that every family has the support they need to put food on the table. I’m grateful to County Executive Ball and all the partners in our community who are working to reduce and end food insecurity in Howard County.”
"The multitude of efforts to provide nutritious meals to children in Howard County during the summer is a tremendous example of the school system working collaboratively with the County, local businesses, county organizations, and the citizens of Howard County," said Vicky Cutroneo, Board of Education Chair. "We place tremendous importance on students receiving proper nutrition throughout the day because we understand the impact that hunger and food insecurities have on a child’s ability to learn and thrive."
"The National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program ensures that children in Howard County have access to the nutritious meals they need to remain healthy and active and to thrive," said Brian Ralph, HCPSS Director of Food and Nutrition Services. "Too many families struggle with food insecurities and the multiple meal options provided by the school system, County, and generous partners are helping to lessen that insecurity."
“Libraries are well-suited to provide summer meals and snacks. In addition to providing engaging experiences, a team of passionate researchers and instructors who can provide help when needed, and a cool, safe environment, we provide a stigma-free place to get food. When a child enters our doors, no one knows whether they are coming for a meal or a snack – or to enjoy the array of resources available at the library. For youth or families concerned about the stigma of being food insecure, the library is a welcoming and judgement-free place,” said Howard County Library System President & CEO Tonya Aikens
“Collectively Howard County will continue to support our most economically vulnerable families to have the resources to provide healthy and nutritious meals for their children,” said Department of Social Services Director Stephen Liggett-Creel.
“Community Action Council of Howard County (CAC) operates the Howard County Food Bank to alleviate food costs for individuals and families. When families come to the Howard County Food Bank, they are alleviating household financial pressure. Money that would have otherwise been spent on food can now be used to help pay their rent, medical expenses, and monthly bills,” said CAC President & CEO Tracy Broccolino.
“Food access challenges that Howard County families experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic are now being compounded by rising costs in gas, housing and groceries, and additional assistance is needed,” said Jackie Scott, director of the Department of Community Resources and Services. “With the support of leveraged funds from all levels of government, DCRS is working collaboratively with our county, non-profit and faith community partners to ensure every Howard County resident has access to food.”