Meal Machine offers meals for kids through the summer

by Geoff Fox

Kids under the age of 18 in the Hancock area have another source of meals this summer as Washington County Public Schools has launched the Meal Machine.

The van will be parked near the Lions Pavilion in Widmeyer Park Monday through Friday, from 12:30 p.m. until 1 p.m., until the first day of school.

Mondays through Thursday, there is a hot food menu, such as chicken patty or pizza, being served on a rotating basis.

The food is bagged in individual servings to the kids who come out for a meal.

Fridays are a little different, as kids will get a cold sandwich along with an extra breakfast and lunch and snacks to get them through the weekend.

Washington County Public Schools will have their Meal Machine in Widmeyer Park from 12:30 p.m. until 1 p.m. Monday through Friday until school starts. The free meals are available for kids aged 18 and under. Kids do not have to be registered in WCPS schools, nor do they have to be school aged to receive a meal.

According to Washington County Public Schools Communication Officer Erin Anderson, the daily meals must be consumed on site. One meal per day per child is permitted. The weekend items can be taken home.

A sign noting this at the Hancock site is displayed on the van.

The van will be at the park rain or shine, but if there were rain, distribution would be under the pavilion.

Anderson said there are 10 vehicles serving 14 areas in the county to provide meals to children 18 years old and younger.

“The children do not have to be enrolled at WCPS or even school age to receive a meal,” she said.

Hancock is one of 11 community sites listed for the Meal Machine.

The schedule for WCPS Meal Machine.

Other community sites include Courtland Manor Complex, Grace United Methodist Church, Noland Village Community Building, Otterbein United Methodist Church (all in Hagerstown, Monday through Friday from 11:30 p.m. until 12 p.m.), Byron Memorial Park in Williamsport, Children in Need in Hagerstown, Clear Spring Park, McCleary Hill Community Building in Hagerstown, Pangborn Park in Hagerstown, and Valley Meadows Complex in Hagerstown (Monday through Friday, 12:30 p.m. until 1 p.m.). Some places have an inside eating option and some have a breakfast offering from 8:30 a.m. until 9 a.m.

Three schools are also hosting sites – Bester Elementary, Salem Avenue Elementary, and Smithsburg Middle School – with lunch only being served Monday through Thursday from 12:30 p.m. until 1 p.m.

Anderson said Washington County Public Schools was recently named a Mid-Atlantic Regional Office 2022 Summer Champion in recognition of their summer meal program operation.

“It really is a tremendous success, and our staff is passionate about ensuring children have access to food even when they are not in school,” she said. “All of the students who attend our summer school programs also receive lunch during the day.”