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Frostburg AmeriCorps Members Help Lunchbox Program Deliver 6,800 Free Lunches

Frostburg AmeriCorps Members Help Lunchbox Program Deliver 6,800 Free Lunches
AmeriCorps volunteer Vicki Peterson rolls out lunches assembled by an army of volunteers from around Frostburg for children who would normally be receiving free or reduced lunches at school, but who don’t have access during the summer.

When a group of youngsters spotted a Frostburg State University van rolling up to Beall Elementary School, they hurriedly unfolded a table and chairs for the driver. Lunch was about to be served.

AmeriCorps volunteer Vicki Peterson of Frostburg wheeled coolers filled with cold cut sandwiches, salad, candy and more, assembled by an army of helpers so the smiling faces could bring them home on a hot August Monday.

"It's been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done," said Peterson, a Frostburg resident and Frostburg Rotary member.

Peterson's stop was just one of many the Frostburg Area Summer Lunchbox Program made to distribute about 6,800 free lunches to kids in need in area communities.  Peterson's involvement as an AmeriCorps member enables her to drive and provide an FSU van to transport the lunches.

Other AmeriCorps members, including Jane Karetny of Brooklyn, N.Y., who was based at Frostburg Grows; Elizabeth Hickman through AmeriCorps Read to Succeed; and Brittney Burton, a VOICE Clearinghouse AmeriCorps member, also volunteered with the group this summer. Area churches also participated.

The Frostburg program serves the communities of Frostburg, Eckhart Mines and Mount Savage to fill the void for kids' nutrition when school is out. More than 54 percent of students in Allegany County public schools receive free or reduced meals, according to the Maryland Department of Education.

“If there are students that need a free or reduced lunch during the school year, chances are they need a free and reduced lunch during the summer, but there’s no school program for that,” said Patrick O'Brien, director of Civic Engagement at FSU and treasurer for the Frostburg Area Summer Lunchbox Program. FSU sponsors the AmeriCorps chapter.

The number of lunches provided this summer, a total of 6,800, is a 78 percent increase over the 1,498 lunches provided during the program's inception two years ago.

“We know that there are more children out there,” Peterson said.

Peterson serves as a co-coordinator for the program. Her participation is part of the greater A STAR! (Appalachian Service Through Action and Resources) in Western Maryland AmeriCorps program that serves Allegany, Garrett, Washington and Frederick counties.

Susan Munk, chairwoman of the program, said she appreciates the help from AmeriCorps.

“AmeriCorps have been a partner with us all three years, and they have been just amazing,” Munk said.


For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589