One year ago this month, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and schools across Maryland had to instantly pivot from in-person to virtual learning. Hundreds of thousands of children were in danger of losing access to the nutrition they rely on from school meals. But school nutrition teams and community organizations across Southern Maryland immediately stepped up, working day and night to figure out new ways to get meals to students — finding innovative solutions like grab-n-go pick-ups, meal drop-offs and more.

Over the past 12 months the crisis has worsened, and even more families in our community are facing financial strain. Today, an alarming 1 in 4 kids in Maryland could face hunger. Yet throughout, school nutrition staff have been there, working tirelessly through the summer, weekends and holidays, to make sure kids get the food they need.

To our school nutrition heroes, thank you. You help keep our kids healthy and ready to learn, and provide a constant in these difficult times. Your love and dedication for what you do and those you serve does not go unnoticed, and our gratitude cannot be overstated.

Kara Panowitz, Baltimore

The writer is writing on behalf of the No Kid Hungry Maryland organization.

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