BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Thousands of children in Baltimore City schools don’t know where their next meal will come from.
On weekdays, they get fed through the school’s meal program, but on weekends those meals aren’t guaranteed.
One program is trying to fill that gap, so these children don’t go to bed with empty stomachs.
There are nearly 3,000 homeless children who attend Baltimore City Public Schools and because they sleep in shelters, in a car or at the home of a relative or friend, there often is not enough food in the household.
A program called Weekend Backpacks is expanding to help.
At Temple Oheb Shalom in Park Heights, the volunteers never seem to stop stop moving.
There are cans to pull, ramen to pick, always another bag to fill.
One hundred people will get 600 bags of food out the door to the homeless children of Baltimore City Schools.
Stu Dettelbach runs the Weekend Backpack program at the Temple.
“Baltimore City identifies about 3,000 homeless children in its schools,” Dettelbach said.
Children who he said can go hungry all weekend.
“But they really have minimal food over the weekend, this program provides them with extra food,” Dettelbach said. “The bags we are packing feed three children for the weekend.”
Running the lift at the back of the large Classic Catering truck is co-owner Larry Frank.
Frank donates the use of one truck and some volunteers, but he has a bigger goal.
“Our goal is to provide more trucks because the bigger the program, the more trucks we’ll need and the more kids we’ll be able to serve,” Frank said.
At Gwynns Falls Elementary, just a few miles away, a volunteer is dropping off the bags made at Temple Oheb Shalom.
“Thank you so much for helping us.”
Fifteen schools get these bags.
At Gwynns Falls Elementary, 82 percent of its students are low income and 30 are homeless.
“It’s been an amazing program because it has food that is nutritious and some students talk about having vegetables that they normally don’t have,” said social worker Roslynn Jangdharrie-Palmer.
The school’s principal, Nikomar Mosley, said many of the parents of the homeless students are working — sometimes more than one job.
“They work hard day-to-day to make ends meet, Mosley said, “so this program helps elevate part of the stress of providing for their students.”
Temple Oheb Shalom raises $35,000 a year to provide over 5,000 bags of food.
It’s part of their mission.
“This is a community that is very fortunate with what they have and they recognize the needs of those less fortunate,” Dettelbach said.
Several other organizations in Baltimore also volunteer to support the Weekend Backpacks program including the Miriam Lodge, area schools and businesses.
Anyone who wants to help, can go here to donate or volunteer your time:
- Temple Oheb Shalom, Weekend Backpacks program
- Miriam Lodge, Weekend Backpacks program
- Baltimore Hunger Project