The Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Food and Nutrition staff (FNS) was recently recognized by No Kid Hungry Maryland for its hard work and dedication to the school system during the pandemic. From the closing of schools in March 2020 to the return of in-person learning in September 2021, CCPS FNS served over 1.1 million meals through the Summer Food Service Program.

CCPS also served over 300,000 afterschool meals contributing to Maryland’s highest percentage of students with afterschool meals, according to the Food Research and Action

Pictured from left to right: Pictured from left to right: Board Member Tajala Battle-Lockhart; Charla Hillyard, food and nutrition services, senior field operations manager; Marcia Brown, food and nutrition services manager, Westlake High School; Michelle Atwell, food and nutrition services manager, Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School; and Nathaniel Lytle, food and nutrition services assistant manager at North Point High School. Credit: Charles County Public Schools

Report’s 2021 Afterschool Nutrition Report. Ayesha Holmes, director of No Kid Hungry MD, and Kara Panowitz, senior manager, expressed the dedication of CCPS FNS during the pandemic. “Without their [CCPS FNS] efforts, many children and families would have difficulty accessing the food they need,” Holmes and Panowitz said.

No Kid Hungry is a national campaign run by Share Our Strength, a nonprofit working to solve problems of hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world. No Kid Hungry works with schools and national and local agencies to implement policies surrounding afterschool, summer, and breakfast meal programs that help hungry kids gain access to nutritious meals.

The immediate responses of CCPS Food and Nutrition staff members to fill in where help was needed when providing food for families during COVID reflects the driving mission of CCPS FNS. Crystal Richardson, director of CCPS food and nutrition, said, “Before I even asked, when everyone else was home and protected, these staff members immediately wanted to do whatever it would take to make sure the students that depend on us each day for meals, were taken care of during the shutdown.”

Rain or snow did not prevent the Food and Nutrition staff from meeting the community’s needs. “I think the hardest part of curbside was the weather. We were in extreme cold and summertime hot. We were out during rain and snow. I know that most of my staff look back on the curbside and remember the good times. Without hesitation, we would all do it again,” said Victoria Langley, food and service manager at J.C. Parks Elementary School.

The No Kids Hungry certificate of appreciation was presented by the Board of Education of Charles County and leadership at No Kids Hungry Maryland to the CCPS Food and Nutrition department staff at the Board meeting on April 12. The certificate recognized the commitment and determination shown to provide meals to the students and families of CCPS.

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