HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — A local grocery store chain is trying to address the issue of childhood hunger and has made a donation to a local public school system.
The GIANT Company is donating over $58,000 dollars to the Washington County Public School system as part of their Feeding School Kids initiative. The initiative aims to address the issue of childhood hunger in local public school districts.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, from 2016 to 2018, 11 percent of all households with children in the state of Maryland faced food insecurity. The GIANT company is trying to address that issue with their new initiative. In January and February, customers shopping at GIANT stores, which include Martin’s and GIANT Heirloom Markets, were asked to round up their grocery purchases to the nearest dollar to donate to the initiative.
WCPS is one of the beneficiaries of the initiative and worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to provide their students with meals while distance learning.
Mike Embly is the Supervisor of Food and Nutrition Services at WCPS and told WDVM the donation will allow the school district to expand their meal distribution program to help more children than ever before.
“It allows us to do so much more than we can with the normal reimbursements for a meal,” Embly explained. “It’s going to allow us to give kids extra food to take home with them for the rest of the week or the weekend or they deem that they should use that food so it’s something that we normally cannot do.”
Embly explained the money will also provide extra funding to the Meal Machine program which distributes food to children while school is not in session during the summer months.
“This money will allow us to do things outside the box and send home shelf-stable items, a wide variety of items to supplement, and really give additional items for times we are not there this summer,” Embly said.
The Feeding School Kids initiative will help school districts fund their meal programs such as covering outstanding student meal debt, expanding food distribution programs, creating on-campus food pantries, and supplying extra weekend meals.
The WCPS Meal Machine program is available to all children under the age of 18 and does not require the child to be enrolled in a WCPS school. The Meal Machine program has already begun operations and will run every Monday through Thursday until school starts back up at the end of August.
For a full list of Meal Machine locations, please visit the WCPS website and search “Meal Machine.”