by Lisa Tome
Jennifer Anderson knows that some of the 19 children in her class come to school hungry.
"I see the need. You can see the need when they come in," said Anderson, who teaches third grade.
That's why she and about 20 other North East Elementary school staffers stayed after school Monday, December 8,, to help give away food. North East and Bay View Elementary are now an alternating food distribution site for the Maryland Food Bank. Each month, through the end of the school year, one of the two schools will give away 6,000 pounds worth of free food.
"It's worth it to help our students and families. It's worth it to bring the community together," said Anderson.
North East Elementary principal Lisa Lowe, Cecil County Public Schools Early Childhood Educator Sandy Grulich, and others from the schools attended training to be a food distribution site. Lowe said the program came about after she attended a lecture regarding the impact of poverty on the brain. Alleviating the "constant crisis" of children not being fed has become a goal for the school. That led to obtaining a grant where a speaker came and helped the school develop a plan to address the nutritional needs.
The Maryland Food Bank officials then determined that there was a "deficit" in serving the North East area. Bay View also signed on as a partner.
All the items at last week's food distribution were fresh produce including baby spinach, kale, cabbage, onions, potatoes, bananas, grapefruit, and apples.
During the first distribution, in addition to the food, coats and books were given away. Lowe said the books were provided free of charge through the State of Maryland Branch of the International Reading Association. Bay View faculty members also helped. "I'm hoping this will help our schools. We're all here to help each other, together," said Bay View principal Jenni Hammer.
The Rotary Club donated cooler bags for those who turned out. There was also a coat distribution for those in need. Students from Cecil College also volunteered to assist with the event. They helped people carry food boxes to their vehicles and restocked items on the giveaway tables.
Cecil College student Zachery Crescenzo said he was helping out because "food is a necessity."
The Maryland Food Bank food distributions will be held alternating months at North East and Bay View elementary schools through June. Dates and times are as follows:
• Thursday, January 22 from 4-6 p.m. at Bay View Elementary.
• Thursday, February 5 from 4-6 p.m. at North East Elementary.
• Thursday, March 5 from 4-6 p.m. at Bay View Elementary.
• Thursday, April 9 from 4-6 p.m. at North East Elementary.
• Thursday, May 7 from 4-6 p.m. at Bay View Elementary.
• Thursday, June 4 from 4-6 p.m. at North East Elementary.
Each of the distributions will include 6,000 pounds of food.
The food distributions are open to the public. The only requirements for those who receive food are to provide their zip code. Food bank officials will also request contact information so they can be in touch with people in the event there is a recall with a food item.