ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — The creator of a farmers market in Anne Arundel County just won a national award.

Jodi Risse works to keep kids fed in the area, particularly during the summer months, while working as the Anne Arundel County Schools food and nutrition services supervisor.

“I’m usually not speechless, I think I’m speechless today,” Jodi said Monday.

She was presented with one of just five national Summer Meals Hero Awards.

“I’m just in awe at how many people are here to support what we do in the school system and just serving healthy meals throughout the year,” Jodi said.

Under her leadership, Anne Arundel County Schools operates 58 summer meal sites that offer free meals to children ages 2 to 18-years-old.

“It’s awesome, it ensures they have a healthy lunch every single day,” said Colleen Eduvigen from Anne Arundel County.

“So one in seven kids in Maryland are food insecure, so the summer meals program is really important,” added Kara Panowitz with Maryland No Kid Hungry.

Panowitz nominated Jodi for the award.

“I just knew that Jodi goes above and beyond, especially compared to what other people do. No one has done a farmers market like this before,” Panowitz said.

Up until four years ago, there wasn’t a farmers market in the immediate area- and that wasn’t acceptable to Jodi.

So, she contacted community partners, called up a local farmer and the Brooklyn Park Farmers Market was born.

“Oh, it means a lot, I bring the children up here every week,” Eduvigen said.

The farmers market offers kids the chance to earn free fruits and vegetables, learn about nutrition and have a little fun with local first responders.

“And just learn to be better citizens and a healthier person throughout their life,” Jodi said.

When school starts in a few weeks, the farmers market will close down but Jodi’s work will continue year-round.

Sean Streicher

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