BALTIMORE COUNTY — Baltimore County Public Libraries (BCPL) are operating a lot differently these days because of COVID-19.
They are only doing curbside pickup, which means no in-person summer programs, but they're still making sure kids are being fed.
"During the summertime, our staff sees kids open to close and they know that they’re hungry, " said Erica Palmisano with BCPL. "And we know this summer more than ever, parents perhaps may not have jobs, kids need food."
BCPL usually offer lunches to kids under the age of 18 during the summer. To keep that service going, they partnered with the Maryland Food Bank for a new mobile meals program.
"Normally we’re working with a program site where we deliver the food to the site and the site actually distributes the food," said Tim Regan, the executive director of FoodWorks with the Maryland Food Bank.
"With this mobile program, we’re using our drivers to come up in a van with the meals and distribute the meals to the kids right from the van."
Regan says the FoodWorks kitchen has had to make major adjustments since the start of the pandemic, from doing fewer hot meals and more grab-and-go meals. He said on average, they prepare and pack more than 20,000 grab-and-go meals a week to distribute to places like BCPL locations.
"It’s proven to be a very effective way to get to kids who come to libraries to pick up books and do what they normally do," said Regan.
Palmisano says the mobile meals service allows the libraries to continue to serve their communities beyond feeding their brains with knowledge.
"We are a community center. We are a place that affords equal access to everyone," she said. "We also have WiFi at all our locations so people who perhaps don’t have Internet access at home can drive up to our parking lot, get WiFI, have a meal."
"We really want to provide access to everyone and make sure that no one is in need at this time."
To see a list of which libraries are offering the mobile meals service and their hours, click here.