Mobile Meals program serves free meals to Baltimore kids during the summer

BALTIMORE - You see food trucks all over Baltimore, selling lunch to workers and tourists.  There's a similar concept happening in the city's neighborhoods, feeding children free breakfast and lunch.

Mobile Meals has 11 sites throughout the city.  Twice a day, six days a week, volunteers fan out to help set up the food, feed the kids and engage in a little play time.  Melissa Moore, program manager for Hunger Services, says each site is carefully chosen.

"All of our vans operate in food deserts," she said.  "If more grocery stores are closing, kids have less access to healthy food."

The Mobile Meals program is run by Family League of Baltimore.  One issue they're trying to overcome is expanding the number of meals they can serve to kids during the summer.  The program is reimbursed by a federal program called Summer Food Services Program, which does not allow Mobile Meals to serve the kids three meals a day.

To make sure kids are getting the most out of their meal times, Mobile Meals will serve breakfast between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and lunch between 3 and 7 p.m.

"During the school year, they get breakfast from school, lunch from school they can also get supper from their after school program," said Moore.  "So I think during the summer they should have access to the same amount of meals."

Family League says it is lobbying congressional leaders to allow them to serve three meals a day.

Another benefit of the program is the playtime and community interaction.  Mobile Meals provides toys and safe places for kids to play.  Alice Nicholson, who volunteers at the Westside Elementary school site, thinks it's a great idea.

"A lot of our kids didn’t get to go to camp and we don’t have a rec center anymore," she said.  "So we try to do things with them to keep them occupied, to keep them safe."

Nicholson has 15 grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren and ran a daycare for 30 years.  She loves coming to the school twice a day and interacting with the children.

"Sometimes they need that extra love, that extra push, that extra guidance," Nicholson said.  "You know if you can put a smile on a child’s face, you’ve really done something that day." 


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