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
Enrollment: 864 students
309 students qualify for Free Meals, 35.7% of all students
139 students depend on SNAP benefits*
19 students currently experiencing homelessness
Parkville High School
Enrollment: 2,116 students
1,069 students qualify for Free Meals, 50.5% of all students
358 students depend on SNAP benefits
250 currently experiencing homelessness
Pine Grove Middle School
Enrollment: 955 students
355 students qualify for Free Meals, 37.1% of all students
163 students depend on SNAP benefits
16 students currently experiencing homelessness
Halstead Academy (Joined November 2019)
Enrollment: 522 Students
406 students qualify for Free Meals, 77.7% of all students
180 students depend on SNAP benefits
23 students currently experiencing homelessness
Owings Mills High School
Enrollment: 1,211 students
585 students qualify for Free Meals, 48.3% of all students
227 students depend on SNAP benefits
53 students experiencing homelessness
Cockeysville Middle School (Joined August 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
Loch Raven Technical Academy
Enrollment: 826 students
486 students qualify for Free Meals, 58.8% of all students
243 students depend on SNAP benefits
20 students currently experiencing homelessness
Dumbarton Middle School
Enrollment: 1,224 students
235 students qualify for Free Meals, 19.2% of all students
80 students depend on SNAP benefits
19 students currently experiencing homelessness
Owings Mills Elementary School
Enrollment: 800 students
498 students qualify for Free Meals, 62.2% of all students
207 students depend on SNAP benefits
31 students currently experiencing homelessness
Battle Monument School
Enrollment: 63 students
37 students qualify for Free Meals, 58.7% of all students
21 students depend on SNAP benefits
2 students currently experiencing homelessness
Pine Grove Elementary School (Joined February 2020)
Enrollment: 609 students
189 students qualify for Free Meals, 31% of all students
74 students depend on SNAP benefits
5 students currently experiencing homelessness
Stemmers Run Middle School (Joined February 2021)
Enrollment: 794 students
464 students qualify for Free Meals, 58.4% of all students
270 students depend on SNAP benefits
12 students currently experiencing homelessness
Total numbers for Network Schools (pre-pandemic)
4,932 students live in severe poverty (qualify for Free Meals in school); of these,
2,092 students depend on SNAP benefits (extreme poverty)
438 students are currently identified as homeless
In 2019, the Student Support Network funded over 11,000 visits and requests for assistance at Network schools, with over $200,000 in monetary and in-kind donations.
Garage of a volunteer before delivery.
2016, Loch Raven Network Adopt A Family Holiday Program
Check out our new 2020 video, “The Student Support Network in Action!”, featuring Student Support Network Volunteers and Board!
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 twelve 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, and Stemmers Run Middle 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
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.