Opinion: The Importance of Summer Meals for Kids

No child should go hungry – ever. But for some kids in Maryland, summer vacation and winter break can be especially difficult. That’s because for many children school is more than just a place to learn: it’s also where our children have reliable access to dependable, nutritious meals.

That’s why I sponsored Senate Bill 218, the Summer SNAP for Children Act, to ensure that Maryland’s kids have consistent nutrition throughout the entire year, setting them on a path to grow up healthy and strong. Thanks to my colleagues, especially Del. Pam Queen, Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Chairwoman Nancy King, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Maggie McIntosh and Del. Marc Korman, the Maryland General Assembly has just passed Summer SNAP for Children and this legislation is now headed to the governor’s desk for his signature. I also want to thank No Kid Hungry Maryland, the Family League of Baltimore, and the Critical Issues Forum for their advocacy work.

Summer SNAP for Children will reduce poverty and hunger for thousands of vulnerable children in Maryland by providing $100 per child, per year in food benefits on an electronic benefits card. This extra support will be a lifeline for families trying to make ends meet. It will reduce food insecurity and improve the diets of low-income children.

Sen. Cory V. McCray (D-Baltimore City)

Without reliable access to nutritious food, kids are hungry, tired and less prepared than their peers to succeed and learn. Children who face hunger in the summer return to school in September already several steps behind their peers. Summer SNAP for Children ensures that our kids will have access to the nutrition they need when school is out, but it’s also beneficial for local communities and the entire state of Maryland.

When families get the nutrition they need, fewer face food insecurity and, in turn, are able to avoid the associated health care costs. Every $1 in SNAP food support generates $1.79 in local economic activity; for example, the $200,000 state investment will lead to an additional $358,000 in local economic activity. Summer SNAP for Children will not only help families and kids, but will also put money back into local Maryland economies.

We have the ability to ensure that more Maryland kids have access to consistent nutrition throughout the summer and over winter break. This is our chance to make a huge impact on child hunger in Maryland, and to chart a better course for our state. Join me in encouraging Gov. Larry Hogan to sign this important legislation. Because all Maryland kids should have the nutritious meals they need all year-round.

–SEN. CORY V. MCCRAY

The writer represents Baltimore City’s 45th District. He can be reached at [email protected]

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