Event Raises Awareness About Free Summer Meals, Learning and Recreational Activities
Mayor and Share Our Strength Kick off Baltimore Partnership to End Childhood Hunger
BALTIMORE, June 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Baltimore Orioles' Adam Jones and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign, the Family League of Baltimore City, the Baltimore Housing Authority, Maryland Hunger Solutions, and other organizations to help raise awareness about free summer meals through the Baltimore City Super Summer campaign and to kick off the Baltimore Partnership to End Childhood Hunger.
"This summer we have a chance to make sure all Baltimore kids have a safe, supervised place where they can go to get healthy meals, continue learning and have fun with friends," said Baltimore Mayor Rawlings-Blake. "When school lets out, many kids who count on school meals lose access to those programs, and are also at risk of missing out on several months of learning and recreational activities. Super Summer will help fill that gap."
While summer is a carefree break for young people, it is also a time when students are at a higher risk of hunger and can lose critical knowledge and skills known as "summer learning loss." According to Maryland Hunger Solutions, less than 50 percent of kids who got a free or reduced-price school lunch in Baltimore City received a summer meal during the summer of 2011. Lack of awareness about free summer meals and other programming leave kids farther behind academically and less prepared to achieve in school and beyond.
"As an athlete, I know how important it is to stay healthy and active so I can play my best," said Baltimore Orioles player Adam Jones. "Super Summer provides kids and teens a chance to have fun, get healthy meals and stay active so that they are at the top of their game when they return to school in the fall."
Super Summer is a partnership between the City of Baltimore, Baltimore City Public Schools, the Baltimore Housing Authority, the Family League of Baltimore City, Share Our Strength (a national nonprofit fighting childhood hunger) and other community partners with corporate support from Sodexo Foundation and Walmart.
Together with Share Our Strength, the Family League of Baltimore City and the Mayor's Office, partners will be getting the word out about Super Summer through daily neighborhood canvasses, paid advertising, a TV PSA featuring Baltimore Orioles' Adam Jones, online outreach, materials distribution, a media partnership with FOX 45/CW Baltimore, and fun events across the city.
Yesterday, Maryland Hunger Solutions released an analysis of participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs. The analysis, containing data for the state and every county, found that the state's overall participation in summer food dropped from July 2010 to July 2011, reaching only 48,288 children on an average day. Yet several jurisdictions, including Baltimore City, managed to increase participation. In fact, Baltimore City reached the most low-income children in the state, serving summer meals to nearly half of the low-income students who received free or reduced-price lunch during the 2010–2011 school year.
"When both school systems and community partners are actively engaged and committed, fewer children go hungry during the summer months," said Maryland Hunger Solutions Director Cathy Demeroto. "We can see this effect in Baltimore City, where the leadership of the Governor's Partnership to End Childhood Hunger played a large role in helping to reach even more children."
Mayor Rawlings-Blake also announced a new citywide partnership which includes city agencies, community nonprofits, and anti-hunger organizations that will work to make sure kids are connected to federal child nutrition programs. Mayor Rawlings-Blake is an emerging leader in the national effort to ensure families and children have regular access to fresh, healthy and affordable foods.
"Today we're also kicking off the Baltimore Partnership to End Childhood Hunger with partners across the city who are committed to making sure our kids have enough to eat where they live, learn and play," said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. "We owe it to our kids to make sure they have enough food—it is a very basic and critical ingredient to their success in school and beyond."
The Baltimore Partnership to End Childhood Hunger will be led by Kevin Keegan, the President and CEO of the Family League of Baltimore City and Holly Freishtat, the Food Policy Director for the City of Baltimore. It will also involve Share Our Strength, Maryland Hunger Solutions, the faith community and more than 15 other city agencies and nonprofit organizations. The Baltimore partnership is part of the statewide Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland led by Governor O'Malley, the Governor's Office for Children, Share Our Strength and many other statewide organizations.
"With nearly three quarters of children in Baltimore City qualifying for free or reduced-price meals, we have to work together to make sure that no child is falling through the cracks," said Anne Sheridan, Director of Share Our Strength's Maryland No Kid Hungry Campaign. "Share Our Strength knows that childhood hunger is a solvable problem and with Mayor Rawlings-Blake's leadership, we will work together to do just that."
"The Family League of Baltimore City is committed to making sure all kids and teens are getting opportunities that will help them learn and grow," said Family League of Baltimore City president Kevin Keegan. "We're pleased to be partnering with the Mayor's Office, Share Our Strength and many other organizations to make sure kids not only have a hunger-free summer full of learning, but also have access to healthy meals during the school year."
Share Our Strength is committing more than $200,000 to support the Super Summer campaign, and more than $100,000 to support the Baltimore Partnership to End Childhood Hunger. Campaign efforts are generously funded by Walmart and Sodexo Foundation.
"Sodexo Foundation is committed to ending childhood hunger in Maryland and nationwide, and it's our work with partners like Share Our Strength that make it possible," said Robert A. Stern, Chair of Sodexo Foundation. "We can come together to make sure that no child goes hungry, especially those most at risk."
Baltimore families can go to youthbmore.org, call 2-1-1 or text "SummerMD" to 877-877 to connect to free meals, learning opportunities, reading and recreation activities in their neighborhood and beyond. Statewide, families can go to www.NoKidHungryMD.org or call 1-877-731-9300 to find a summer meals site in their neighborhood.
Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign
More than 16 million children in America struggle with hunger. Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry® campaign is ending childhood hunger by connecting kids to the healthy food they need, every day. No Kid Hungry brings together governors, mayors, businesses, chefs, federal and state agencies, educators and community leaders to connect children at risk of hunger with food and nutrition programs where they live, learn and play. No Kid Hungry also teaches families how to cook healthy, affordable meals through Cooking Matters® and invests in community organizations that fight hunger. Get involved at Strength.org.
SOURCE Share Our Strength