Eric Goslee, the food and service director at Maryland’s Wicomico County Public Schools, knows that summer meals bring much more than food to the hearts of the thousands of kids he serves.
"We're not just delivering a meal; we're delivering friendship. We're delivering comfort. We're delivering security. We're ensuring that kids grow into healthy and wise young men and women," he explained.
Wicomico County is a community surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. Many of their major employers include healthcare, electronic component manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, shipbuilding and agriculture.
For Goslee, it’s home, the place where he grew up, where he lives and works. In Wicomico, he has witnessed the strength of a community ready to overcome obstacles and ensure kids have all they need. After all, it takes a village to raise a child.
Goslee and his team deliver free meals to kids in the area while the school cafeteria is closed. This summer they will serve over 1500 kids every day.
Sadly, the weak economy has put many of these kids at risk of living with hunger.
“You just need to see it firsthand,” Goslee shared. “Walk into a school building on a Monday and see how many children haven’t eaten all weekend. Ask a nurse how many kids come to the office with a belly ache because they haven't eaten anything.”
The stories are heartbreaking. Goslee remembered the time his staff served a boy a meal, but he wouldn’t eat it because he wanted to take the food back to his family.
“Hunger is real, and good nutrition is lacking for many of our children,” he shared.
Goslee understands how essential school meals will be this summer. Many kids just recently came back to in-person class and are still working on reconnecting to the school community. They will be able to see their friends and cafeteria staff at the meal distribution sites this summer vacation.
“It is definitely in many cases more than a meal,” Goslee said, talking about his food distribution program.
Kids run excited to hug the cafeteria workers that they miss so much. At the same time, these lunch heroes are able to do so much more for kids. They listen to the needs of families and connect them to critical resources, including signing up to the P-EBT program— a federal program which provides low-income families with funds to replace missed school meals during the pandemic.
They also help them with what they can. On one occasion, a cafeteria worker shared with the family of a young child some baby clothes her son had outgrown.
The community of Wicomico County remains strong in the face of the challenges that continue after the pandemic. Many volunteers have joined the cafeteria staff at the meal distribution sites. From volunteer fire departments to churches, they support the efforts to feed children and continue to show up to every meal distribution event.
But they, and communities like theirs nationwide need some help to ensure no kid goes hungry. This year as many as 1 in 6 kids could be living with hunger across the US.
With your support, No Kid Hungry continues assisting programs like Goslee’s this summer and through the long recovery following the coronavirus crisis. Programs like his across the country are bringing millions of kids the community, love and support they need in these challenging times.
Help us spread the word about summer meals by sharing our Free Meal Finder Map or our texting hotline, where families can simply text the word FOOD or COMIDA to 304-304 to find free meals near them.
Donate now to help children in Wicomico County and across the nation get the meals they need this summer and beyond.