News

Franklin Square Hospital Has Been A Consistent Supporter Of The Network, June 8, 2021

Thank you to MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center for the donation of diapers, period products, and handmade baby blankets and hats! The Network was able to provide families in need with these items at our distributions the last few months!

Maryland Book Bank Has Donated 6,000 Books To The Network, June 3, 2021

This past week marks the 6th month that the Network has received 1,000 books a month from the The Maryland Book Bank!

These 6,000 books for children have been distributed by volunteers happy to give them out, and received by delighted children and their families. Some of the books have already found their way into the libraries of Network schools.

A huge thank-you to Joanne for making this partnership possible. She has spent countless hours sorting through donated books and also given of her time through many trips to the Book Bank and to our storage space at Goucher.

These photos don’t begin to tell the story – we respect the privacy of recipients. But we can all imagine the thousands of smiles and the pleasure and learning these books have and will generate.

Thank you Maryland Book Bank, and thank you, Joanne!

The last two photos show Linnea, “ resident librarian“ for Network Essentials Delivery(NED), carefully selecting books for our families in need receiving delivery.  What a joy!

Baltimore Magazine Highlights Work of Network Volunteers and Period Poverty Project, May 25, 2021

Three of our amazing Network volunteers have assisted hundreds of students and their families through their work to end period poverty – read all about it in Baltimore Magazine!

Mars Estates Elementary Joins the Network, May 2021

Please help us welcome our 13th Network school, Mars Estates Elementary! Mars Estates Elementary School is located in Essex.  We are so happy to have them join the Network!

The Baltimore Sun Profiles The Exceptional Work Of The Student Support Network, April 6, 2021

In an article titled “Student Support Network, food bank volunteers go to great lengths the past year to feed Baltimore County”, the Sun discussed the important efforts of the Network and its many dedicated volunteers to alleviate the food insecurity in Baltimore County that has worsened as a result of the pandemic.  The far-ranging article also spotlights Network donors, county officials and the Maryland Food Bank, who all contribute to the efforts to support county residents living in poverty.

To read the article, click here.

WYPR Reports On Food Insecurity In Baltimore County, March 21, 2021

WYPR 88.1FM published an article titled “COVID vaccine not ending long lines for food” by John Lee.  The article and accompanying audio recording focuses on the efforts by organizations like the Student Support Network to ease the trauma of food insecurity exacerbated by the pandemic and wage inequality.  The broadcast and article includes interviews with the Network’s Yara Cheikh, Parkville High School distributions lead volunteer, and Beth Wolff, coordinator for the volunteers who deliver food and supplies to families who can’t come to the school distributions.

To read the article and listen to the broadcast, click here.

Wonderful Volunteer Hosts A Birthday Donation Drive For The Network, March 21, 2021

Happy Birthday to Rachel, who for her 9th birthday invited people to say hi at her house through a drive-by event – and to drop off donations for the Student Support Network. She and her Mom, Jessie, dropped the donations off at our storage space at Goucher this week. Thank you Rachel for your act of kindness and compassion for others as you celebrated your birthday!

Towson Presbyterian Church Continues Its Support For The Network, March 19, 2021

Towson Presbyterian Church has been an important and valued supporter of the Network.  This week was no exception when more than 25 volunteers and contributors came together to donate, pack and deliver 212 Essential Bags including:

300+ rolls of toilet paper
212 rolls of paper towels
212 bars of soap
424 tall kitchen bags
212 bottles of shampoo
212 tubes of toothpaste
16+ period packs

We are so grateful for their support!

H&S Bakery Reaches Major Milestone In Donations To The Network, March 10, 2021

Nine months ago, the Baltimore Hunger Project connected us to the H&S Bakery.  Since that time, the Bakery has regularly donated bread to our weekly distributions.  This week marks a tremendous milestone in donations to the Network: this wonderful local business has now donated over $100,000 of bread to our students and their families!

Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Mr. Chuck Paterakis and the team of employees at the Bakery, our Bread Brigade, headed by the amazing Jeff, picks up bread every week and brings it to our distribution sites.

A huge thank you to the Bread Brigade: Jeff, Alec and Adele, Tom, Betsy and Carlton, Kimberly, Joe and Susan, Tate, Neilson, Karen, and Dean.

And to the man who makes this possible, Mr. Chuck Paterakis, whose generosity has made this terrible pandemic easier to bear for thousands of families through providing this essential staple.  Thank you so much!

The Network Announces New Executive Director, March 1, 2021

The Network is very happy to welcome our new Executive Director, Rina Vaishnav Rhyne, LMSW to the team.

Rina is a licensed social worker and has extensive experience with running volunteer programs, administering grants, and developing outreach programs. Rina holds a Masters of Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is currently pursuing her certificate in Nonprofit Management. Rina is a resident of Baltimore County and a parent and volunteer in the BCPS system.

The board is excited to work with Rina and confident that the Network will be well positioned under her guidance to continue to thrive in the years to come.

 

The Network would like to wish outgoing Executive Director, Jessica Wodarczyk, the best of luck as she moves forward from the Student Support Network.

Jess joined the Network in May of 2019 as its first Executive Director. During her tenure, the Network grew from four to twelve schools, with two more currently in the process of joining. Jess managed this tremendous growth AND the challenges brought on by the pandemic with patience and grace. In particular, her work with our volunteers has been a major factor in creating the wonderful sense of community that is shared within the Network. In addition, she has been a great help in organizing a smooth transition to the Network’s new Executive Director, Rina Vaishnav Rhyne.

Jan Bahner, who was Vice President of the Board when Jess joined, stated, “Jess was absolutely the right person to develop the role of Executive Director for the Network. With her calm demeanor and passion for the work she does, she was perfect!”

We wish Jess all the best and are so happy that she plans to stay engaged with the Network as a volunteer as her schedule permits.  Thank you, Jess! You will be missed!

The Network Announces It Will Continue Distributions After Schools Reopen, February 23, 2021

With the schools scheduled to reopen in March, the Network Emergency Food Program distributions at Parkville High School, Loch Raven Technical Academy, and Owings Mills High School are currently planned to change from Fridays to Wednesdays starting March 10th. Wednesdays are the day when students will not be in school buildings; and planning for this transition has already begun.

Weis Markets Managers Make Important Donation To The Network, February 22, 2021

We are grateful for the very generous donation presented to the Student Support Network by five Weis Markets store managers, who collected funds at their stores for the annual Day of Giving. Many thanks to Rob Santoni Jr. for organizing this morning’s event, and to the managers of the other Weis Markets for attending! Our volunteer Janet Stevens represented the Network in accepting this donation.

 

 

Photo left to right: Ashley Ludwig (WEIS #123 Joppa Rd. Perry Hall), Bob Diffucia (WEIS #180 Honeygo Blvd. Perry Hall), Franz Kraus (WEIS #86 Essex), Janet Stevens, Student Support Network, Kevin Schiffman (WEIS #228 Towson) and Rob Santoni (WEIS #206 Fullerton)

Shake Shack Opening In Towson Benefited the Network, February 20, 2021

There was a great opening event at Shake Shack in Towson!  Yara Cheikh represented the Student Support Network at the ribbon cutting ceremony and Shake Shack donated $1 to the Network for every sandwich sold.  We are grateful for their immediate involvement with our local community!  In attendance: State Delegate Cathi Forbes, our former site coordinator for distributions at Loch Raven Technical Academy, County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Councilman David Marks (5th district), Council Chair Julian E. Jones Jr. (4th District), and many others bundled up and masked!

WJZ announced the opening!

The Hopkins Hub Published An Article Titled “Lending A Helping Hand”, February 8, 2021

Johns Hopkins University’s Hub published an article on Professor Adam Sheingate, a regular volunteer at the Parkville High School distributions, and Yara Cheikh, a Hopkins alumna and the Network site coordinator at Parkville High School.  Professor Sheingate teaches a seminar on The Politics of Food.  The article focuses on his volunteer work and how it ties to and what it says about government assistance programs.  To read the article, click here.

Stemmers Run Middle School Joins The Network, February 1, 2021

Please join us in officially welcoming our 12th school, Stemmers Run Middle School, in Essex!

The Lead Volunteers of Stemmers Run are Ruth Malick and Char Stivers.  They will work with school staff to fulfill students’ needs, as well as stock and organize the support room for students once schools reopen physically.

To learn more about Stemmers Run Middle School, please visit its Network home page.

We End The Peace Of Mind Campaign With Great Thanks To Our Donors, January 31, 2021

The results of our Peace Of Mind campaign exceeded all expectations!  Our goal last October was to raise $60,000.  We actually raised over $209,000!!!!  We continue to be in awe of our many donors who have contributed to the Network and — even more importantly — to the ongoing support of the students and their families who are living in poverty in Baltimore County.  Thank you!

 

Greater Chesapeake Charitable Foundation Makes A Donation To The Network, January 22, 2021

There was a wonderful event today at the Owings Mills High School distribution: Mr. Eric Smalls, a Board member of the Greater Chesapeake Charitable Foundation (GCCF), presented a check for $2,000 to the Student Support Network. Eric was able to see the distribution process and meet our wonderful volunteers. We are grateful to him and to the Greater Chesapeake Charitable Foundation for this generous donation!

Gathering Point Giving Circle Is Sponsoring A Drive For The Network, January 21, 2021

We are thrilled that the Gathering Point Giving Circle is sponsoring a drive for cereal, cooking oil and diapers to benefit our Network distributions. It’s easy to help, and students and families in need are so grateful to receive these items! A big thanks to this amazing group of women who have done so much for us through providing weekly soup kits and other assistance to families.

As Mr. Rogers Said, “Look For The Helpers. You Will Always Find People Who Are Helping.” January 2021

We are so grateful to our dedicated volunteers and donors.  Here are just a few:

Julie, dropped off mittens, gloves, scarves and hats from the Glen Meadows Retirement Community;

Carla in her magical car brought donated bread goods from Weis Markets in Towson;

Jeff and Joe of the Bread Brigade brought bread to Loch Raven Technical; and volunteers at Owings Mills distributed the bread that Jeff and the Brigade bring every week, donated by H&S Bakery downtown for our sites on Fridays. Jeff has put over 2,200 miles on his truck for the Network!

The Ford Foundation donated thousands of masks for service events and distributions.

Councilman David Marks Recognizes Network Volunteers, December 17, 2020

“Today, I am announcing that 19 outstanding volunteers will be the Fifth District Citizens of the Year.

The Citizens of the Year program was created in 2011 to recognize good works throughout the Fifth District, which stretches from Towson to Kingsville. I solicited nominations from the public, but also recognized those our office interacted with over a very difficult year.

2020 has been a truly difficult year, but it has also brought out the best in generosity and community leadership. In honoring these individuals, I am also recognizing and thanking some of the organizations they have assisted, such as the Student Support Network. Additionally, I thank our first responders, physicians, educators, and those on the front lines for all their work this year. We truly have many ‘Citizens of the Year’ this year.”

The Citizens of the Year are:

John and Sara Barber, and Patricia and Matthew Anderson, for their leadership in improving the Knollwood community and Greater Towson during the 2020 pandemic.

Michael Boyes and Cristina Salazar, for their leadership in developing the South Towson Design Review Area community survey, which helped guide rezoning and land use decisions in the Anneslie and Rodgers Forge communities.

Abby Letocha, for leading the effort that produced 3,000 period cycle packs between April and August of 2020. Subsequent work has increased this number to nearly 13,000 packs.

Phoebe Evans Letocha, for her leadership in improving public schools; coordinating efforts to end period poverty; and advancing the interests of southeastern Towson.

Beth Bone Miller, for her work in advancing environmental improvements, and her overall leadership in the Green Towson Alliance . In honoring Beth, we also recognize the many contributions of the Green Towson Alliance.

Jeff Dorsey and Joe Goodman for their unfailing dedication as volunteers with the Student Support Network. In honoring Jeff and Joe, we are also recognizing the outstanding work of the Student Support Network, which played a critical role in helping vulnerable families this year.

Nancy Goldring, for her tireless leadership in protecting the interests of Northeast Towson. Nancy has been a champion for her neighbors against difficult odds.

Cathy Balcar and Drena Fertetta for organizing a food drive that assisted the Student Support Network. In honoring Cathy and Drena Fertetta, we are thanking all those associated with Saving IND, Inc., for their generosity.

Kim Franke, for her leadership in creating and distributing more than 2,000 protective masks during the 2020 pandemic.

Tracy Myers, for her leadership in revitalizing and improving the Glenside Park community.

Rob Santoni Jr. of Weis Markets for his consistent support of the community during the 2020 pandemic, and his overall generosity in serving the communities of northeastern Baltimore County. Weis Markets has been a true corporate friend to many organizations, and sets an example for others!

Kelly Seifert and Stephanie Macam Pusinsky for coordinating a community food drive for Beans & Bread at St. Vincent De Paul that supplied hundreds of meals to our most vulnerable. In honoring them, we are also recognizing all those who helped from the Moore’s Meadows community.

The League Of Women Voters Includes The Network In The December Issue Of Its Newsletter, December 15, 2020

We are grateful to the League of Women Voters of Baltimore County for including an article by Laurie Taylor-Mitchell in the December issue of their newsletter!  Laurie gives an important update on the accomplishments of the Network since the pandemic closed schools in March.
 
To read Laurie’s article, click here.
 
To read the LWV December newsletter (Laurie’s article is on Page 7), click here.

The Network Is Now One Of AmazonSmile’s Non-Profit Partners, December 8, 2020

When you shop at AmazonSmile and designate Student Support Network, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to the Network at no cost to you!  Another way to support the Network!  Here’s the link.

Maryland Book Bank Donates Books For Network Distributions, December 6, 2020

We are so excited to announce this wonderful donation of 1,500 books for children from the Maryland Book Bank! Thanks to JoAnne Wells and her husband Dave, who delivered the books today to our storage space, we now have 1,500 books for younger children for our December distributions — with more promised if we can use them. JoAnne spent many hours sorting to provide board and picture books and chapter books.  We are very grateful to her and to this wonderful organization!

Gerstell Academy Students Donate Food For Friday Distributions, December 2, 2020

We’re grateful to Suzanne Appelbaum Shapiro and to the students of Gerstell Academy for their hard work and generosity – they brought food to the Student Support Network’s storage space for the distribution at Owings Mills High School. This food will help a lot of families!

Weis Markets Created Donation Drive For The Network On Giving Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Organized by Rob Santoni Jr., the general manager of the Weis Markets in Fullerton Plaza, five Weis markets collected funds to benefit the Student Support Network through the rounding up of purchases at check-outs. In addition, the corporate office of Weis Markets donated $500 to the Student Support Network for each store designating the Network as their beneficiary on the Day of Giving.

WEIS Fullerton
WEIS Essex
WEIS Towson
WEIS Perry Hall (Joppa Rd)
WEIS Perry Hall (Honeygo)

We are deeply grateful to Rob Santoni for this latest effort to provide more food for our distributions, one of several donation drives he has organized for the Network over the last few months.

 

Today Is Thanksgiving And Our Gratitude Is Boundless, November 26, 2020

This has been a year like no other in memory.  It has brought challenges — financial, physical, psychological — to all of us.  But it has also shown what we as a community can accomplish when we work together.  Thanks to the generosity of our many  individual, organization, and company donors and volunteers, the Student Support Network has been able to provide over $2 million worth of food, grocery gift cards, and essential products to our Baltimore County neighbors in need, through our weekly distributions at area schools.  We are so very grateful to every one of you who has supported our vital work.  Thank you!

Please Note Holiday Food/Essentials Distribution Schedule Changes!

**No Friday distributions in the weeks of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day**

Distributions at Loch Raven Technical Academy, Parkville High School and Owings Mills High School will all be on the following Tuesdays instead — all still at 11 am to 1 pm:

Tuesday Nov. 24, (before Thanksgiving)

Tuesday Dec. 22  (before Christmas)

Tuesday, Dec. 29 (before New Year’s Day)

Greenspring Valley Neighbors Spotlights Vicki Almond, November 2020

Greenspring Valley Neighbors, part of Best Version Media, wrote a wonderful article on Vicki Almond.  Vicki is a member of the Student Support Network Board Of Directors, a long-time Network volunteer, a lead volunteer for Owings Mills High School; and she manages the Friday distributions at Owings Mills High School!  We couldn’t do what we do without her!

To read the article, click here.

Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry Recognizes The Network For Its Innovations, November 2020

The Student Support Network’s Emergency Grocery Card Distribution was one of twenty-one programs in the nation — and the only one in Maryland — selected by Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry for their new report, “Innovations in Child Nutrition Programs During COVID-19 and Beyond.”   The Network was recognized specifically for “Innovations in Meals Served” for mailing grocery gift cards to families that could not access the weekly food and essential products distribution sites.

As of November 13, the Network has mailed or distributed over $120,000 in grocery gift cards, with many students and families depending on them to purchase food and other essential supplies.

To read the report, click here

A Big Thank You To WBAL Radio And Burlington Stores For Coats For Students, November 17, 2020

WOW — 180 coats for kids! Thank you to WBAL NewsRadio 1090 and FM 101.5 and Burlington for keeping our students in need warm this winter!!!

A Huge Thank You To Weis Markets And Saving IND For A Successful Food Drive, November 15, 2020

Many thanks to Rob Santoni Jr. of Weis Markets in Fullerton Plaza and to Drena and Kathy of Saving IND, Inc. for sponsoring and volunteering for the 4-day food drive benefiting the Network!  During the first two days of the drive, (numbers courtesy of Baltimore County Councilman David Marks), the truck was filled with 330 cans of vegetables 100 cans of meat, 103 canned meals, 40 boxes of mac and cheese, 67 pounds of pasta, 36 jars of sauce, 132 cans of soup 24 large peanut butter jars, 23 boxes of cereal, and numerous donations of personal hygiene and household items.

A second great food donation was dropped off at our storage space after the final 2 days of the food drive! Network volunteers helped unload the truck – donations have already made their way up to Owings Mills – the rest are organized in bins (many more than in the picture) and will be distributed at Parkville and Loch Raven Technical – a fantastic job!

The Network Receives A Grant From Matthews International Corporation’s Children’s Foundation, November 6, 2020

 

We are so very grateful to Matthews International Corporation’s Children’s Foundation and to Amy Shimp of Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens for her assistance with these grants!

From Amy Shimp: “It was great catching up with Laurie Taylor-Mitchell, President of the Student Support Network, especially to present her with another $1,000 grant from Matthews International Corporation’s Children’s Foundation.

We are proud to sponsor the Network in obtaining this grant that will contribute to weekly food distributions for Baltimore County students and their families facing food insecurity. Thank you, Laurie, for everything you, your staff, and volunteers do for our local community.”

Weis Markets, Saving IND, And Baltimore County Councilman David Marks Are Holding A Food Drive To Support The Network, November 6-7 And November 13-14, 2020

Rob Santoni Jr., the store Manager of Weis Markets in Fullerton Plaza (7927 Bel Air Road, Nottingham, MD, 21236) and major supporter of the Network, is partnering with Saving IND, Inc., and Baltimore County Councilman David Marks to sponsor a food drive for the Network on Nov. 6-7 and Nov. 13-14.  On these days, donations of food and essential non-food items will be collected at the Weis Markets store in Fullerton Plaza from 9 am to 6pm. These donations will benefit the Network’s weekly distributions in November and December.

You can help by sharing this flyer and shopping at this Weis store on the days of the drive to help fill the donations truck. Thank you!

League Of Women Voters’ Newsletter Published Laurie’s Article, October 2020

The October newsletter,The Voter, of the League of Women Voters of Baltimore County published an article by Laurie Taylor-Mitchell:

POVERTY IN BALTIMORE COUNTY AND THE STRUGGLE FOR BASIC NECESSITIES
Laurie Taylor-Mitchell, President, Student Support Network

We reported in the LWV September newsletter that 30% Baltimore County’s high school students are now suffering from food insecurity — the anxiety and stress of not having continuous access to nutritious food.

Food insecurity is accompanied by many other forms of insecurity generated by poverty.

The Student Support Network has become acutely aware of “period poverty,” i.e. girls and women who cannot afford period products, which seriously affects leaving their residences for work, getting food, recreation, and, when schools re-open, even going to school.

Nationally, one in four women have struggled to purchase period products this past year, and one in four teens report not going to school because they cannot afford period products. Students also use period products for excessive periods of time when they cannot afford them, putting them at risk of health problems (https://www.parents.com/news/survey-menstrual-hygiene-products-period-poverty).

In Maryland, 37% of all girls in grades 7-12 attend Title I eligible schools, i.e. schools with high rates of poverty (https://cdn.b12.io/client_media/HJ1wIVtI/e5c8dfb4-95f9-11ea-a54f-0242ac110003-Maryland_APS_Period_Poverty_Fact_Sheet_052020.pdf).

Fortunately, Maryland does not tax period products. A bill requiring period products to be available without charge in public schools (HB208) did not pass during the shortened 2020 legislative session and hopefully will be re-introduced next year.

Diapers: The inability to pay for diapers and care for a baby or toddler in this most basic way is an acute source of stress for families. A lack of diapers limits child care options and can also put babies at increased risk of health problems and child abuse.

Nationally, 1 in 3 families suffer from diaper need, as identified by the National Diaper Bank Network. In Maryland, nearly 1 in 5 babies and toddlers live in poverty. (https://nationaldiaperbanknetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/2018_State_Diaper_Facts_11_2018_Maryland.pdf).

Food assistance programs do not pay for period products, diapers, or other basic necessities such as toilet paper, laundry detergent, and soap. An average monthly supply of diapers costs $70-80 (https://nationaldiaperbanknetwork.org/diaper-need/).

Unlike Baltimore City (ShareBaby), Baltimore County does not have a diaper bank distributing diapers to non-profits and partners serving families in poverty.

The Maryland Diaper Bank only distributes diapers in Charles County, Southern Prince George’s County and St. Mary’s County.

Recognizing these other basic needs in addition to food, the Student Support Network recently distributed its 10,000th pack of period products and distributes about 10,000 diapers a week to families. We often run out even with this number.

Why are so many families in Baltimore County struggling to make ends meet?

  • A worker in Baltimore County needs to make $25.81 per hour to afford the fair market rent and utilities of a two-bedroom apartment without spending more than 30% of their income (National Low Income Housing Coalition; cited in Maryland Alliance for the Poor http://mapadvocacy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Maryland-Poverty-Profiles_2020-FINAL.pdf)
  •  Nearly half of the jobs in Maryland pay less than $20 an hour (United Ways of Maryland ALICE report, updated 2020, page 1).
  • The current minimum wage in Maryland is $10.10.
  • In 2018, before the pandemic, 40% of all households in Baltimore County were struggling to make ends meet (ALICE report, page 4).

For more information about the Network and our current activities and advocacy, please visit https://studentsupportnetwork.org/ and click on “Become a Friend TODAY”.

The Student Support Network Kicked Off Its Peace of Mind Campaign, October 5, 2020

The Student Support Network launched its Peace of Mind Campaign on October 5, 2020. The campaign aims to give students and families the peace of mind they deserve in these challenging times. It is dedicated to raising funds for and awareness of the food insecurity and need that exist in our community. During the first days of the campaign, the community has the opportunity to hear important messages from our honorary chairs Devin Hess and Orioles pitcher David Hess, families who receive support, and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr.

Campaign Co-Chairs, Tracey Myers-Preston and Michael Preston, shared “We believe during these uncertain times it is vital to provide assurance wherever we can. We want our families to know The Network will continue to be here on a weekly basis.”

Since the closing of schools in March, the Network has delivered more than $1.2 million in food and other essential supplies to Baltimore County families – the equivalent of 750,000 meals. This was made possible by Network volunteers who came together and quickly built the infrastructure and processes to serve the current 900 families each week. Due to the ongoing pandemic, school closures, and job loss, the need is ongoing and is predicted to increase. The Peace of Mind Campaign was created to ensure that the important work of the Network would continue and Baltimore County families would have the support they need.

The Baltimore Sun Investigates Food Insecurity In Baltimore County, September 28, 2020

Baltimore Sun journalist, Taylor DeVille, wrote an article detailing the extraordinary work that is being done to mitigate food insecurity in Baltimore County.  The work is spearheaded by Baltimore County government offices and the Student Support Network, with help from county agencies, police and fire department personnel, BCPS students, the Maryland Food Bank, local farms, and many volunteers.  In the article, Laurie and our partner, Phong Le (assistant professor at Goucher College), provide insights on food insecurity and inequities in the county. 

To read the whole article, click here.

Laurie Taylor-Mitchell Will Be A Panelist In The Back to School Forum, September 22, 2020

Laurie Taylor-Mitchell will be participating as a panelist in the Back to School Forum, “Empowering Families for Student Success and Wellness in a COVID-19 Era”, sponsored by the NAACP Maryland State Conference.

This virtual forum will take place Tuesday, Sept. 22 from 7-8:30 p.m.  To read about the forum, click here.

This should be a very informative event for parents, teachers, and community groups involved with student education and wellness.  To register, click here.

We Are So Grateful To The Community Outreach Team Of The UM St. Joseph Medical Center! September 16, 2020

Since the end of March, the Community Outreach team of the UM St. Joseph Medical Center has supported the Network’s assistance to students and families.

For the last six months they have provided:

  • Hand sanitizer and gloves (for our first distributions when there were none to be found)
  • Alcohol swabs for a diabetic child whose family could not acquire them
  • Thousands of fresh sandwiches for children delivered to our distribution sites
  • Hundreds of boxes of fresh produce delivered to our distribution sites  
  • Information on COVID-19 in English and Spanish for distribution to our families
  • Volunteers for our distribution sites

Since the beginning of the school year, the Community Outreach program has donated or provided:

  • 100 headsets with microphones to facilitate online instruction for children in need
  • Hundreds of bags for the distribution of school supplies.
  • Information on flu shots for distribution at our sites

This sustained support has been fostered and organized by Kristen Artes, the head of the Community Outreach team, and we are so grateful to her and to the St. Joseph Medical Center for their comprehensive approach and understanding of student needs right now.  Thank you!

League Of Women Voters Highlights Education In Latest Newsletter, September, 2020

The League of Women Voters of Baltimore County has been extremely active in advocating for improvements in BCPS, notably the expansion of CEP but also for improvements in infrastructure.  Please check out pages 4-6 of the September Voter on education and advocacy – and consider joining the League – men also welcome!

Yara Cheikh is a member of the LWV Education Committee and also runs the Parkville distribution site for the Student Support Network –

Betsy Sexton is a regular volunteer at the Parkville site too. These League members and many others advocate for our schools and support the Network through volunteering and donations.

Great News From BCPS: 87 Schools Eligible for CEP (Community Eligibility Provision) Are Enrolled For 2020-2021! August 31, 2020

All of these schools will be sites for serving meals starting Sept. 8.  To see a list of the schools in the CEP program, click here.

An additional $4.1 million dollars will be added to the P-EBT electronic cards of qualifying students, about $123 per student, for the month of September.

These rates are locked in for FOUR YEARS.  When schools reopen, all of the students at these schools will be offered breakfast and lunch at no charge to them – no more lunch shaming, meal card debt, or paperwork for parents to fill out every year!

About 60,000 students, nearly half the student population, will benefit from the implementation of CEP, in which ALL students are offered breakfast and lunch at no charge, including students and families of special concern and those who make too much to qualify for Free and Reduced Price meals, but not enough to make ends meet.

Statement issued by BCPS on Monday, August 31, 2020:

“On Friday, August 28, 2020, BCPS learned that the Maryland State Department of Education confirmed the status of the Baltimore County Public Schools’ application submitted for the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Program. The application has been approved and validated, with 87 schools confirmed to participate in the CEP program effective at the start of 2020-2021 school year. Meal delivery, in collaboration with the Office of Transportation, to all 87 schools, will begin September 8, 2020.”

Cockeysville Middle School To Join The Network, August 17, 2020

Cockeysville Middle will soon be our newest Network school!  Thank you to the MANY individual donors in the community, including Senator Chris West and Mrs. Anne West, who helped make this possible. Special thanks to Delegate Dr. Michele Guyton, MD State House of Delegates District 42B and all of you who helped spread the word!

A Recap of Network Accomplishments March 20 – July 31, 2020

Since schools closed on March 20, the Network has:

  • Distributed over $580,000 in food and essential supplies at sites
  • Provided the food equivalent of over 380,000 meals
  • Provided support for over 24,000 visits from students and families
  • In addition, mailed over $77,000 in grocery cards to students and their families in dire need or who cannot access distribution sites

Your contribution has made these great accomplishments possible and helps us continue this work.
Thank you!

The Baltimore Sun Spotlights Abby’s Girl Scout Project, July 27, 2020

The Sun wrote an article on Abby’s Girl Scout Gold Award project to supply care bags of feminine hygiene products to the Student Support Network’s Friday distributions.  Her efforts focus on ending “period poverty” for those students and families who are suffering from economic hardship during the Covid-19 pandemic. At last count, Abby has distributed over 4000 period packs with the help of donations from over 200 people.

The article also notes the other girl scouts who are collecting period products and diapers for donation (see News items below for more information).

To read the full article, click here.

Girl Scouts Rock – Part 4!  July, 24, 2020

Today is the launch of Kate, Chloe, and Saara’s Silver Award Project for Girl Scouts. They are three rising 8th grade Girl Scout Cadettes who have opted to focus on a problem that is pervasive, yet often unknown to many. “Period Poverty” is defined as the inadequate access to menstrual hygiene products due to lack of income.

This project is 99% Girl Driven, with only a little guidance from parents and friends.

Please check out their Amazon Wishlist! 

Also as part of their Silver Award project, the scouts created a petition to make period products essential items that can be purchased with government safety-net funds in Maryland. If you are interested in reading and/or signing the petition, click here.

Girl Scouts Rock – Part 3!  July 23,2020

Another wonderful young volunteer who will be committing her time and energy to help families with babies and toddlers – meet Natalie L.

For her Girl Scout Silver Award project, Natalie is collecting diapers, wipes, baby shampoo and other baby supplies for the Student Support Network. She will distribute these every week to the approximately 140 cars that come to Loch Raven Technical Academy for help.

She has received $1,400 in product donations in less than a week at her house! These donations include over 4,000 diapers, which are as important as food for some families in dire need.

Natalie has made enough diaper packs bags to supply 84 families!

She has also packed more than 50 complete baby supply bags (baby shampoo, lotion, wipes and diaper cream) to give with the diaper packs.

For anyone able to contribute, she has set up an Amazon Wishlist that gets shipped to her house, where she will assemble baby supply packs each week.

Goucher College Has Generously Provided A Wonderful Storage Space For The Network! July 22, 2020

We are very grateful to Goucher College President Kent Deveraux for his commitment to our Mission, and to State Delegate Cathi Forbes, whose conversations with President Deveraux made this possible.

Funding for tables and shelving in our new space (now being ordered) has been donated by State Farm Insurance Agent Brigid Mulligan, through the State Farm Good Neighbor Program. Thank you, Brigid!

To read Goucher College’s announcement of the gift and the college’s ongoing commitment to the work of the Student Support Network, click here

A Young Volunteer Demonstrates Selflessness, July 17, 2020

We celebrate Piper, one of our youngest volunteers.  She recently turned 8 and for her birthday she told her parents that she didn’t want more ‘stuff’ — she wanted to help her community. Donations poured in to help make her birthday wish come true and today, alongside her family, she delivered everything to the Student Support Network.

To continue Piper’s birthday celebration, check out her Amazon Wishlist.

Baltimore County BOE Votes For CEP, July 14, 2020

On Tuesday evening, the Baltimore County Board of Education voted unanimously to direct the Superintendent to elect the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) for 66 schools that are currently eligible.

Schools electing CEP offer breakfast and lunch at no charge to all of the students at schools with a certain percentage of students in poverty.  No more lunch shaming, meal card debt, and  paperwork to fill out for students attending these schools.

There may be even more schools eligible than that and we are waiting for the updated list.

At this point, two schools belonging to the Network, Halstead Academy and Battle Monument Schools will implement CEP.

Many thanks to Board of Education members Erin Hager and Cheryl Pasteur who spoke extensively on the need for CEP, and for the tireless advocacy of Tam Kelley of No Kid Hungry, State Senator Shelly Laskin Hettleman and Delegate Cathi Forbes, the Maryland PTA, PTA Council of Baltimore County, Teachers Association of Baltimore County, The League of Women Voters of Baltimore County, and many others for their tremendous efforts to get CEP into as many of our schools as possible. The Student Support Network also advocated for CEP.

To see the letter of support signed by over 70 individuals and groups, please click here

All of the schools below, and at least twenty more, will be able to offer breakfast and lunch at no charge to ALL students- which will comprise at least 30% of the total student population in the school system.

1. Arbutus Elementary
2. Baltimore Highlands Elementary
3. Battle Grove Elementary
4. Battle Monument School (Network School)
5. Bear Creek Elementary
6. Berkshire Elementary
7. Catonsville Center for Alt Studies
8. Charlesmont Elementary
9. Chase Elementary
10. Crossroads Center
11. Deep Creek Elementary
12. Deep Creek Middle
13. Dundalk Elementary
14. Dundalk Middle
15. Edmondson Heights Elementary

16. Elmwood Elementary
17. General John Stricker Middle
18. Glyndon Elementary
19. Grange Elementary
20. Halethorpe Elementary
21. Halstead Academy  (Network School)
22. Hawthorne Elementary
23. Hernwood Elementary
24. Holabird Middle
25. Lansdowne Elementary
26. Lansdowne Middle
27. Logan Elementary
28. Mars Estates Elementary
29. Martin Blvd Elementary
30. McCormick Elementary

31. Meadowood Education Center
32. Middlesex Elementary
33. Norwood Elementary
34. Oakleigh Elementary
35. Riverview Elementary
36. Rosedale Center
37. Sandalwood Elementary
38. Sandy Plains Elementary
39. Scotts Branch Elementary
40. Seneca Elementary
41. Stemmers Run Middle
42. Sussex Elementary
43. Victory Villa Elementary
44. White Oak School
45. Woodholme Elementary
46. Woodlawn Middle

Kudos To Our State Delegates Who Are Volunteering At Distribution Sites, July 2020

We now have state delegates who have volunteered at all of our three distribution sites:

Dana Stein volunteers at Owings Mills High School.

Cathi Forbes, coordinates the distribution at Loch Raven Technical Academy.

Michele Guyton and Harry Bhandari are volunteering at Parkville High School

We are so very grateful to them for their continuing support of the communities they serve and the Student Support Network!

Dana Stein with Vicki Almond at Owings Mills High School

Cathi Forbes with Jesse Albright of Albright Farms at Loch Raven Technical Academy

Dr. Michele Guyton at Parkville High School

Harry Bhandari with Yara Cheikh at Parkville High School

Girl Scouts Rock – Part 2! July 10, 2020

In April, Abby L., a 2020 graduate of Towson High School, created a Girl Scout Gold Award project to #EndPeriodPoverty.  Each week, Abby has bagged period packs of pads and tampons to give out at the Network Friday distributions of food and essential supplies.  As of this date, Abby has supplied over 3000 period packs for students and families. 

To contribute to Abby’s project, please check out her Amazon Wishlist.

Girl Scouts Rock – Part 1! July 2, 2020

Special thanks to Girl Scout troop #2455 for sharing their cookie money to help others in their community!

Student Support Network Issues Resolution, Summer 2020

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.