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Foundation Supports Weekend Food Program

For the past year, the Anne Arundel County Bar Foundation (AACBF) has been participating in an important initiative to combat childhood hunger in our county.

About one-third of the students in Anne Arundel County Public Schools receive free or reduced meals during the school week, and many of these students lack adequate food at home. More than 40 local schools have established a Weekend Food Program to provide food to students who lack sufficient food at home over the weekend. All of these programs are grass-roots efforts organized by staff or volunteers at individual schools and supported entirely by donations from parents, churches, charitable groups and businesses.

To support the Weekend Food Program, the Anne Arundel County Bar Foundation launched a fundraising campaign that has raised $15,345 in donations from generous AABA members since the launch of the campaign in November 2015. The donated funds were given to the Anne Arundel County Public Schools' Office of School and Family Partnerships, which distributed the money to Weekend Food Programs at Solley Elementary in Glen Burnie, Meade Middle School on Ft. Meade, and the Phoenix Academy in Annapolis.

The school that received the greatest benefit from the Bar Foundation donation was the Phoenix Academy, a public school serving K-12 students living throughout the county. The mission of the Phoenix Academy is to provide alternative programming to meet the needs of students who are experiencing barriers to learning in a traditional public school environment. The Phoenix Academy offers a broad range of programs and special education services, and coordinates support with many local agencies and organizations to meet the needs of its unique student body. At the high school level, the school offers a variety of “Completer Pathways” in career areas such as agriculture, culinary arts, graphic design and hospitality management.

Because of the generosity of AABA members, we were able to fully fund the Phoenix Center's Weekend Food Program, which provides weekend meals for 25 students. The Phoenix Academy maintains two food pantries, one dedicated solely to the Weekend Food Program for students, as well as a second pantry for the local residents who can come twice per month. The Phoenix Center staff identifies the students in need of this program and secures permission from the students' parents/guardians. After permission is granted, students in the program will receive a bag or backpack full of food items every Friday during the school year. Items might include single-serve cereal, breakfast bars, soup, single-serve macaroni and cheese and fresh fruit. Warming packs are often included with the food so that students can enjoy a hot meal.

AABA President Anne Leitess had an opportunity to visit the Phoenix Academy on November 28 and learn more about its students, particularly those who benefit from the Weekend Food Program. The AABA is eager to continue its support of disadvantaged students at the Phoenix Academy and in other public schools in our area and hopes that members will continue to contribute to the Weekend Food campaign. To make a donation, please visit www.aabar.org/weekendfood.

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