Many county governments provide meals to children who may not otherwise receive adequate nutrition and sustenance during the months between school terms. In Montgomery County, 37,150 children are food insecure – more than in any other county in Maryland, according to the county’s recent news released. As described by Montgomery County, the summer lunch program is a partnership effort to address childhood food insecurity throughout the summer months,
For the second consecutive year, the TESS Center, part of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services’ Community Action Agency, served as a drop-in site for the Summer Meals Program, distributing more than 1,300 free lunches to children. The Center partnered with Montgomery County Public Schools for eight weeks to provide free lunches to children in the Long Branch community. Children 18 and younger received a nutritious bagged lunch every weekday at TESS.
This year, the TESS Center served 1,355 lunches throughout the summer – nearly twice as many as last year. As many as 269 children received free lunches each week at TESS. Five high school volunteers supported the program and coordinated and implemented the lunch distribution. Student volunteers were attuned to the needs of the local community and earned Student Service Learning hours by directly serving children each day.
In Montgomery County, 37,150 children are food insecure – more than in any other county in Maryland. “Food insecurity” is a term used by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that indicates that the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food, or the ability to acquire such food, is limited or uncertain for a household.
Over one-third of students in Montgomery County Public Schools qualify for the Free and Reduced Meals (FARMS) Program. The federally-funded Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) was established to prevent children who rely on the FARMS program from going hungry during the summer months when school is out of session.
The TESS Center, has served residents for over 30 years, providing access to social services and resources, including food and nutrition programs. Center staff assist clients through information and referrals, free tax preparation through the VITA Program, legal services provided by the Bar Foundation, English classes, services to seniors, and services to young children and their families through the its partnership with the Judy Center.
For more information about the TESS Center, go to http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/HHS-Program/OCA/OCATESS-p351.html or call 240-773-8260. The Center is located at 8513 Piney Branch Road in Silver Spring.