No Kid Hungry
1 in 8 kids live with hunger in the U.S., and here’s the rub: lack of food isn’t the problem. In Caroline County, Maryland, a close-knit rural community—where 40% of residents live below the poverty line—the challenge is ensuring that children have reliable access to food. Located on the Eastern Shore of the state, the region is a virtual food desert where families often have to drive miles to find the closest supermarket—and that’s if they have access to transportation in the first place. Neighbors look after each other to overcome this challenge, but it’s still hard for families to make sure kids get enough food.
Enter Beth Brewster, supervisor of food services for Caroline County Public Schools. With funding from No Kid Hungry, she makes sure that all children have the food they need to thrive, especially when schools are closed, and school lunches disappear. This happened during the pandemic, every summer and during the holidays.
For Christmas, for example, not only did Brewster and her crew go door to door delivering hams and produce boxes, but they also provided additional meals for kids to get through the season “because that's what people forget,” she explains. “If the child's going on a holiday break, where are they getting their food source? We made sure we sent home ample food for them to get through the holiday.”
Here, meet the heroes that are stepping up for the kids in Caroline County. “What can I say?” says Brewster of her team. “They’re superwomen.”
The Cafeteria Staff
During the school year, the cafeteria staff is there for the kids, getting to know them and their needs. In the summer, they start before dawn, cooking and packing meals that are delivered to families while also working ahead of schedule preparing and freezing fresh fruit and vegetables from local farms to serve when school is back in session.
“We’ve had a very good relationship with our local farmers for many years,” says Brewster. “They’re economic development. We’re a farming community, and they’re very important for our families. So, we have always tried to purchase as much local as we can. It’s a win-win. It’s a win for them, it’s a win for my kids.”
“We do summer meals in all of our different cafeterias, our open sites, but we also go mobile and we go to community centers,” says Brewster, noting that No Kid Hungry’s supported the mobile pantry program by providing essential equipment, including a van, coolers and storage units.
Caroline County Public Schools' Sam Figueroa, left, and Beth Brewster
Brewster and Sam Figueroa, food operations manager at Caroline County Public Schools, are the brains behind the efficient model of mobile meals in the district. With their leadership, they deliver meals to hundreds of kids in the summer, create a weekend backpack program, partner with local farms to serve produce in the cafeteria as well as with local libraries to serve meals, and engage the local migrant communities to better meet their needs.
Veronica Beard is partnering with No Kid Hungry to help end childhood hunger. For every purchase on veronicabeard.com between 10/1/23 and 12/21/23, $5 will be donated to No Kid Hungry with a minimum guarantee of $300,000. Learn more here.