About Us

Our Mission

We improve the lives of Baltimore County students living in poverty by providing food, other basic necessities, and advocacy support.

The Network partners with school staff to assist qualified students in need to improve their lives and support their education through the provision of food, clothing, educational supplies and other critical items.

Christina Pumphrey, Lead organizer at Pine Grove Middle School, in “The Grove” Room of Support

Students from Goucher College and Professor Phong Le with Chris Diehl, Lead organizer (both at far right) in the “Loch Raven Haven” at Loch Raven High School

During the summer of 2020, The Network issued the following resolution:

The Student Support Network is committed through its mission to assist students in poverty and those experiencing homelessness in Baltimore County Public Schools and to advocate on their behalf. As part of this mission, the Network is resolved to improve communication, intentionally create inclusive programs, and work to end disparities in access to resources. The Network is particularly concerned about addressing the effects of poverty and homelessness disproportionately affecting students and families of color. The Network is also committed to practice honest and thoughtful reflection in considering its programs and advocacy, guided by the principle that creating an environment that can be accessed, understood, and used to the greatest extent possible by all people ultimately benefits everyone.

Why We Do What We Do

 

Poverty and food insecurity in Baltimore County Public Schools

(Compiled by Dr. Laurie Taylor-Mitchell, President, Student Support Network)

The federal government defines poverty for a family of four in 2020-2021 as making no more than $26,200. These rates are not adjusted for geography or the cost of living in the 48 contiguous states, which is a major problem in Maryland, where the cost of living is high.  The basic “survival budget” for a family of four (2 adults, 2 children) in Maryland (no savings possible) is about $77,000 a year.

Federal Poverty Guidelines – for Income Eligibility:

  • Free Meals: in 2020-21, income for a family of four cannot exceed $34,060 (130% of Federal Poverty Level, or FPL)
  • Reduced Price Meals: in 2020-2021, income for a family of four cannot exceed $48,470 (185% of FPL)

Thousands more in Baltimore County are poor but their families make too much to qualify for meals.

BCPS statistics only track those students whose families qualify for Free and Reduced Price Meals.  In 2019, over 50,000 students (nearly 44% of all students) qualified for Free and Reduced Price Meals in Baltimore County Public Schools.  An update from Superintendent Williams in early January 2021 noted the percentage of students qualifying for Free and Reduced Price Meals is now 52% of all students (approximately 60,000+ students). BCPS has not yet made these statistics available to the general public.

 

Poverty and Homelessness in Network Schools

*SNAP is the acronym for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; these students live in families at or below 130% of the federal poverty level, which in 2020-21 is an annual income of no more than $34,060 for a family of four people.

For Free Meals in school, a family of four can make no more than $34,060.

The “survival budget” income needed by a family of four to be self-sufficient in Baltimore County (no savings possible) is $77,000.

Before the pandemic, 44% of all students attending BCPS lived in poverty (51,469 students; of these, 24,860 qualified for SNAP).  An update from Superintendent Williams in early January 2021 noted the percentage of students qualifying for Free and Reduced Price Meals is now 52% of all students (approximately 60,000+ students). BCPS has not yet made these statistics available to the general public.

 

Loch Raven High School (First school, 2016)

Enrollment: 864 students

309 students qualify for Free Meals, 35.7% of all students

139 students depend on SNAP benefits*

12 students currently experiencing homelessness

 

Parkville High School (Joined 2017)

Enrollment: 2,116 students

1,069  students qualify for Free Meals, 50.5% of all students

358  students depend on SNAP benefits

169 currently experiencing homelessness

 

 Pine Grove Middle School (Joined 2018)

Enrollment: 955 students

355  students qualify for Free Meals, 37.1% of all students

163 students depend on SNAP benefits

24 students currently experiencing homelessness

 

Halstead Academy (Joined 2019)

Enrollment: 522 Students

406 students qualify for Free Meals, 77.7% of all students

180 students depend on SNAP benefits

20 students currently experiencing homelessness

 

Owings Mills High School (Joined 2020)

Enrollment: 1,211 students

585 students qualify for Free Meals, 48.3% of all students

227 students depend on SNAP benefits

103 students experiencing homelessness

 

Cockeysville Middle School (Joined 2020)

Enrollment: 910 students

299 students qualify for Free Meals, 33% of all students

130 students depend on SNAP benefits

8 students currently experiencing homelessness

 

Mars Estates Elementary School (Joined May 2021)

Enrollment: 391 students

275 students qualify for Free Meals, 70% of all students

142 students depend on SNAP benefits

6 students currently experiencing homelessness

Loch Raven Technical Academy (Joined 2018)

Enrollment: 826 students

486 students qualify for Free Meals, 58.8% of all students

243 students depend on SNAP benefits

14 students currently experiencing homelessness

 

Dumbarton Middle School (Joined 2019)

Enrollment: 1,224 students

235 students qualify for Free Meals, 19.2% of all students

80 students depend on SNAP benefits

16 students currently experiencing homelessness

 

Owings Mills Elementary School (Joined 2019)

Enrollment: 800 students

498 students qualify for Free Meals, 62.2% of all students

207 students depend on SNAP benefits

26    students currently experiencing homelessness

 

Battle Monument School (Joined 2020)

Enrollment: 63 students

(serves students between the ages of 3 and 21 years old who have multiple disabilities)

37 students qualify for Free Meals, 58.7% of all students

21 students depend on SNAP benefits

4 students currently experiencing homelessness

 

Pine Grove Elementary School (Joined 2020)

Enrollment: 609 students

189 students qualify for Free Meals, 31% of all students

74 students depend on SNAP benefits

9 students currently experiencing homelessness

 

Stemmers Run Middle School (Joined January 2021)

Enrollment: 794 students

464 students qualify for Free Meals, 58.4% of all students

270 students depend on SNAP benefits

50 students currently experiencing homelessness

Total numbers for Network Schools

 5,207 students live in severe poverty (qualify for Free Meals in school); of these,

2,234 students depend on SNAP benefits (extreme poverty)

461 students are currently identified as homeless

 

Garage of a volunteer before delivery.

2016, Loch Raven Network Adopt A Family Holiday Program

Check out our 2020 video, “The Student Support Network in Action!”, featuring Student Support Network Volunteers and Board!

Our History

The Student Support Network began as the Loch Raven Network, a holiday project begun by Laurie Taylor-Mitchell in December of 2015 to assist students at Loch Raven High School. A request for 4 volunteers to help 5 students and families, either homeless or in dire need, led to 17 days of donations before the project ended Dec. 20. In that time, 128 volunteers donated food baskets; baskets/ bags with laundry detergent and toiletries requested by 25 families; gift bags for homeless students; winter clothing, sheets and blankets, and dozens of smaller gifts (total value in the thousands); and monetary donations of over $6000. The Loch Raven Network became a non-profit (501c3) organization in October of 2016. Its change to the Student Support Network resulted from the growth to programs operating in three schools: Loch Raven High School, Parkville High School, and Pine Grove Middle School. The Network has since grown to thirteen schools with the inclusion of Loch Raven Technical Academy, Dumbarton Middle School, Owings Mills Elementary School, Halstead Academy, Battle Monument School, Owings Mills High School, Pine Grove Elementary School, Cockeysville Middle School, Stemmers Run Middle School, and Mars Estates Elementary School.

When schools closed in March, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Network set up weekly distributions of food and essential supplies at three schools:  Parkville High, Loch Raven Technical Academy, and Owings Mills High.  These distributions were open to any Baltimore County students and families in need.

The Student Support Network receives assistance from companies, local churches, community groups and foundations, the Baltimore County government, and individual volunteers who have donated funds, in-kind donations, and their time to the Network.

Student Support Network
1740 E. Joppa Road
Suite 200
Baltimore MD 21234

The Student Support Network is a registered non-profit 501(c) (3) tax-exempt charitable organization. All contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.