Narrator: There’s a Friday feel in the lunchroom at Glyndon Elementary school and a Friday feel in the hallway as Stacy Martin makes a critical delivery, ferrying food bags to children to fend off weekend hunger.
Stacy Martin: These bags definitely go to good use and these kids enjoy these bags and sometimes hope for more.
Narrator: One of the bags will travel by backpack to a home around the corner where Christine Wood, a mother of two, is trying to bounce back. Her rent went up after she returned to school to become a physical therapist. With her fiancé’s income, they just missed the cutoff for food stamps.
Christine Wood: It might seem small but seeing your kids like happy about stuff like that, stuff that we normally wouldn’t really be able to afford, it helps us out just for those days.
Narrator: Tracy Robinson is the Principal at Glyndon Elementary in Baltimore County where more than half of the students receive a free or reduced cost lunch and seven families are homeless.
Tracy Robinson: We have to make sure that our children are well fed and their nutritional needs are met and put their emotional needs before we ever get to the reading and math and the academics.
Narrator: The needs grow when the school doors close for the week. The group, Maryland Hunger Solutions, estimates 17% of households with children in the state are food insecure.
Male Speaker: Food insecurity means you don’t have any confidence that you know where your next meal is coming from.
Narrator: Carla Elliot Whitman recalls her childhood when food could be scarce.
Carla Elliot Whitman: You’re searching the cabinets and you’re hoping to find something there. And sometimes there was something there and sometimes there just wasn’t.
Narrator: Carla volunteers with the Baltimore Hunger Project. They supply weekend meals to 450 children in 15 schools in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, including Glyndon Elementary. There are 1,200 kids on a waiting list for the program that CPA Lynne Kahn began in her garage.
Lynne Kahn: There is a greater problem than I could’ve ever imagined.
Narrator: Counselors like Stacy Martin identify children in need.
Lynne Kahn: So this week alone, I had three requests from three different schools asking for more children to be supported.
Narrator: A retired teacher started a similar program called Weekend Backpacks for homeless kids with food distributed to families in 20 Baltimore schools.
Female Speaker: We cannot have hungry kids. As a former teacher, I can tell you, hungry kids cannot learn.
Narrator: Experts say efforts like these bridge the gap for families.
Male Speaker: It’s not that poor people can’t budget, they budget all the time. They have to budget. They have less resources than many of us in order to take care of their needs. But sometimes there’s more month than there is money.
Narrator: With this help from the Baltimore Hunger Project, Christine Wood is able to save gas money for her fiancé’s hour-long commute to work.
Christine Wood: If you ever feel, you know, less because you receive it, then you go to wipe that out.
Stacy Martin: Everybody goes through a season in her life that they might need a little extra help.