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‘They Need Our Help’: Free Meals During Coronavirus Will Cost Baltimore-Area Schools Millions Without Aid

At lunchtime on a recent weekday, Shelise Harding and Christine David wheeled a tray cart to the walk-in refrigerator in the kitchen of John Ruhrah Elementary/Middle School and loaded it with boxed-to-go meals they’d prepared: fruit, vegetables, tuna sandwiches, crackers, bread and milk.

Bypassing the school’s empty lunch line and the cafeteria tables bearing boxes of Maryland Food Bank donations, food service workers rolled cart after cart of meals to a waiting line of students, parents and others in need at one of the school’s entrances.

The federal government has relaxed some of its regulations to allow meals to be served outside of group settings and picked up by parents. But because the U.S. Department of Agriculture reimburses schools for meals on a per-student basis, schools in Maryland and around the country are bracing for tens of millions of dollars in losses from their food programs, unless they receive additional funding.

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