Meals til Monday feeds hungry students

CAMBRIDGE – It was a busy time before Christmas for the volunteers of MidShore Meals til Monday, and their work continues.
The non-profit group is part of a regional network that provides meals to students on Fridays, to feed them over the weekends. Many children in Dorchester live in situations in which they cannot be sure of where their next meal is coming from when they are home.
They depend on school meals. But that doesn’t work for them when classes are not in session.
The children’s hunger can be especially acute over extended breaks, meaning food charities have to provide more than ever.
“Meals til Monday had two food give-aways right before Christmas the Judy Center in Cambridge and at Vienna Elementary School,” a post on the group’s social media page says. “All together, almost 15,000 pounds of food was distributed to nearly 300 families.”
Meals til Monday is extending its reach to meet local needs. The group recently added 25 students at Choptank and 50 at Sandy Hill elementary schools, bringing their total to 230.
Volunteers have been packing usually at Vienna Elementary School, but now need more space. “We are looking into a Cambridge location as a second school pantry and packing site,” an email to the Banner said.
The group receives help from a variety of sources, from the federal government to local, concerned citizens.
“Thanks to a generous donation from the Mid-Shore Board of Realtors, Meals til Monday provided over $5,000 worth of food to hungry families in Dorchester County,” the group posted regarding its efforts before Christmas. “Our many volunteers, including fifth graders from Vienna Elementary School, made up boxes of food for families to take home and enjoy.”
Meals til Monday currently serves children at Vienna, Choptank, Sandy Hill and Maple elementary schools. They receive at least 12 healthy, non-perishable food items for each meal over the weekends, fresh fruit, snacks and a special treat such as stickers, a pencil, a little toy or markers.
“Periodically during the year, dental hygiene kits are sent home, also warm hats, gloves and even coats in cold weather,” the group’s website said. Please visit www.midshoremealstilmonday.org to learn more about us and how you can help.”
Leslie Bishop leads the effort in Dorchester. She and a group of volunteers were packing at Mace’s Lane on Thursday. She spoke about how particularly supportive Vienna’s school and citizens have been, saying, “It’s a true community.”
She also recalled how much their work means to some of Dorchester’s most vulnerable people, and how one responded when she received her holiday package of food. A young girl had said, ‘Now we won’t be hungry for Christmas.’”
“It was a student from Mace’s Lane who had gone to Vienna,” Ms. Bishop said. “This is why we do this.”

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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