DENTON — Food for Learning board member Fred Spence recently honored businesses and community members for supporting the inaugural year of the Caroline County-based program that raises money for Caroline students with food insecurities.
The organization, along with the Mid-Shore Community Foundation and Caroline County Public Schools, began with the goal to provide food for students in need during the weekends with many students only receiving meals during school hours. Now, the program provides more than 600 Caroline students with a backpacks filled with food for the weekend.
The organization wants to keep the momentum going for year two so children do not have to struggle to find food.
“Many of our students only receive meals while they are at school,” Spence said. “Once the school week ends, they go home and don’t have food for the weekend. Children who are food insecure come to school hungry and have lower scores on standardized tests than low-income children who arrive at school well fed.
“We want to change that by providing food for students for the weekend. It takes students two days after coming to school on Monday to get their batteries charged up to start learning. That is two days in the school week gone because they didn’t get nutrition over the weekend.”
According to the Maryland State Department of Education, 53.7 percent or 3,202 students received free or reduced meals in Caroline County Public Schools for the 2017-2018 school year. The percentage was sixth highest in the state.
“The Food for Learning initiative has been an awesome experience,” CCPS Director of Student Services Derek Simmons said in December 2019. “It has been an absolute blessing to see the community come out and support this effort.”
Spence said the community helped Food for Learning reach its goal to raise $75,000 last year. Coupled with a grant, the organization met their goal last school year to raise $130,000 for food-insecure children.
Food for Learning honored sponsors with a ceremony at the beginning of the school.
Spence thanked Caroline County Public Schools and all the principals in Caroline for partnering with the program.
The organization recognized three levels of sponsors — Superintendent Level, Principal Level and Teacher Level.
The Superintendent Level features business and organizations that raises more than $5,000 for the program, and they included Tri-Gas and Oil, Denton Walmart, Sisk Fulfillment and Friends of the Federalsburg Water Tower.
The Denton Walmart hosted a raffle and shopping spree in December 2018 to help raise money for the cause. Proceeds from purchased raffle tickets, which totaled nearly $11,000, went directly to students with food insecurities.
Federalsburg Elementary School sold more than 400 tickets, the most in the school system.
Jenni Lewis, the winner of a Walmart shopping spree raffle, sped through the Denton Walmart on Dec. 12, 2018. collecting as many food items as she could within two minutes.
After the shopping spree, Lewis said she was focused on collecting food items with a high shelf life, as she was donating the food to Love Inc. of Mid-Delmarva, a Seaford Del. organization. An organizer at Love Inc. of Mid-Delmarva had provided her a list of food items they needed the most, she said.
The Principal Level saw groups and businesses raise between $3,000 and $4,999, and they included H & M Bay, Inc., Mid-Shore Board of Realtors, Preston Automotive and Choptank Transport.
In November 2018, Mid-Shore Board of Realtors (MSBR) selected Food for Learning as one of three recipients of the $9,000 CARE award. Food For Learning received $3,000 to help their cause. MSBR also donated $3,000 each to CarePacks in Talbot County and Meals Til Monday in Dorchester County provide food to children who do not get enough to eat at home.
“I couldn’t think of a better cause than to help feed our local children and am glad the realtors chose these organizations,” MSBR Past President Dormaim Green said in November 2018. “Knowing that these groups provide nutritious and healthy foods, now these students can come to school ready to learn and not focused on where their next meal will come from.”
The Teacher Level saw groups and businesses raise between $1,000 and $2,999, and they included Roxanne Wolf, Bob Breeding General Contractors, Federalsburg Lions Club, Harmony United Methodist Church, Mr. and Mrs. Luke E. McConnell, Heritage Financial Consultants, LLC, Shoreline Vinyl Systems, Inc., Caroline County Board of Education, Maven & Smith, Ames United Methodist Church, Federalsburg Family Restaurant, Provident State Bank and Choptank Electric Cooperative.
For more information about the Food for Learning organization and to make a donation, visit the organization’s website at www.carolinefoodforlearning.org.