Many local families struggling with food uncertainty for their children received a generous gift from a local church. The members of Abundant Life Church in Glen Burnie have raised and donated enough funds to eliminate the meal debt for more than 2,500 Anne Arundel County Public School students.
More than 27,000 Anne Arundel County Public Schools students – about 32 percent – qualify for free and reduced-price meals. Many more, however, struggle with food uncertainty. Their families earn too much money to qualify for the program, but have trouble balancing the family budget – and paying for school lunches. The donation from the members of Abundant Life Church to the 21st Century Education Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports the activities of Anne Arundel County Public Schools and its students, will cover student meal debts at 59 local schools in the Chesapeake, Glen Burnie, Meade, North County, Northeast, and Old Mill feeder systems. The specific amount of the donation is being withheld at the request of the church.
“For our church, this donation is not about dollars but about the impact we can have on the lives of children,” church Lead Pastor Nate Drye said. “We believe fundamentally that we are called to serve, and we are blessed to be able to serve the community in this way.”
Last year, AACPS served more than 5.9 million lunches and 3.5 million breakfasts in schools. AACPS menus feature additional healthy options for all students. Choices include additional fresh fruits and vegetables, more whole grain options, and more lean protein and low-fat dairy options.
In addition to breakfast and lunch, the school system also serves free early evening meals at 45 sites and operates a summer meals program.
“A great school system needs great community partners, and Abundant Life Church has been awesome in so many ways for our students and our schools,” Superintendent George Arlotto said. “From donating space for conferences and parent events to completing surprise makeover of staff lounges at schools to devoting time to work with our students, Abundant Life and its members have been a steadfast source of collaboration and support. Our school system and our students are better because of their involvement.”