By Marissa Yelenik
Source: The Baltimore Sun
In response to the needs of the community, HCPSS began a free meal distribution service this past March called Grab-N-Go to provide food at no cost for anyone 18 and under, and any HCPSS student. This service has been extended through the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year, but the cost is subject to the U.S. Department of Agriculture funding availability. Meals can be picked up at any HCPSS school, excluding Burleigh Manor Middle School and Hammond High School, which are both currently undergoing construction.
As of October 12, 2020, this service includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack, on any day that school is in session Monday through Friday from 8-9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. For those interested in the distribution of weekend meals, they are available for pickup on Fridays and can also be preordered for pickup on Thursday. The service works with families to accommodate food service requirements including food allergies and matters of privacy for those taking part in FARMs.
Shivani Modi, a senior at Hammond High School, believed this service is a huge step for our community, adding “I know multiple people who are benefiting from the service, including a teacher! It’s really helping people and their families because the service is so accessible and it’s completely free for everyone. The service provides multiple meals and a snack per day, which covers all the bases for daily nutrition and takes away one less worry for a family during these uncertain times.”
Senior Saim Rizvi expressed his appreciation for the service, saying “I think this is nothing but a positive thing for the community. It gives people the opportunity to have basic necessities that may be difficult for them to acquire otherwise,” adding in that “it’s really nice to see something like this bring people together, and it’s a great way to build the bonds within a community as well as simply provide basic needs to those who may not have them.”
Pre-ordering for convenience is available, but can only be picked up on Monday and Thursday. Monday pre-orders include the meals for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, while Thursday pre-orders include meals for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The pre-order form must be submitted at least two school days prior to pickup through the HCPSS Nutrislice website or the mobile application.
Parents can pick up meals without their children present, but will be asked what their child’s name, grade, and school are. Recipients are allowed to authorize a separate person to pick meals up for them with a form that can be found online at hcpss.org, while the paper form is available at any pick-up location.
HCPSS is also continuing the FARMs program, which they describe as a program to help “families save money and open access to many resources and discounts, including testing fees, tuition, internet, and much more.” It is confidential and must be reapplied to each year through HCPSS Food Services.
Although the service is great for the community, they could work on a couple of things as they go on. Shivani suggested that “Howard County should better advertise the fact that the food service is open to everyone,” while Julia Moyer stated “In the spring many who needed the grab and go meals were not able to access them because of limited sites, transportation, and the site hours. I think there is room for improvement in making the Grab and Go meals more accessible, but I am happy to see HCPSS trying to implement meal deliveries to help limit this issue.”