LETTER: Calvert Public Schools Reject Offer to Feed Hungry Children - Southern Maryland Headline News

LETTER: Calvert Public Schools Reject Offer to Feed Hungry Children


I am attempting to sponsor a program called Backpacks for Hunger at my local elementary school in Calvert County. This is a program in operation nationwide that provides backpacks filled with nutritious, kid-friendly food each Friday to children identified at risk of going hungry over the weekend. Manna Food Bank and it's Corporate Sponsors currently provide backpacks to over 500 students at 20 elementary schools each week in Montgomery County. The Maryland Food Bank operates the program in several Baltimore City schools. This is important to know because a precedent of operation in Maryland is established.

I have offered to provide the food and labor to operate this program at one school. When I began this journey in November, the school embraced the program and sought approval from Student Services at the Board of Education. The request was moved up the line and finally rested with the Deputy Superintendent, Robin Welsh. After two weeks of my phone calls and email being ignored I contacted several County Commissioners for assistance. That intervention prompted a response from the Board asking for more information, which I happily provided. Two more weeks elapsed and I received a response on December 19th that said due to numerous concerns related to liability and school operations, they would not permit operation of the program.

This is a NO COST program to feed hungry children, improve their health and ability to function in school. I have appealed to the County Commissioners and the Board of Education members yet nothing happens. This action is shameful at any time but even more so with the level of financial distress felt by so many. The food banks are overwhelmed, kids are going hungry and the BoE continues to put up roadblocks hoping I will go away.

Cheryl Gilmer
Dunkirk, Md.

Ms. Gilmer provided the following response from Robin Welsh:

Hello Cheryl,

Thank you for providing the information about "Backpack for Hunger." I have reviewed all of the information, as well as information from the websites that you provided. We certainly appreciate your concern for needy families and your efforts to help them. Due to numerous concerns relating to liability and school operations, WHES will not be able to participate in this program.

Thank you

Robin Welsh
Deputy Superintendent

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