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Maryland Classroom: Dinner is Served! A New School Holiday Tradition

By Jodi Risse

MDCityChristmasLunch2015Many parents choose at least one day a week to have a family meal where members can connect with each other and disconnect from the world.

This practice isn’t just for home—it’s for school too. Several school leaders in Anne Arundel County Public Schools offer healthy after-school supper, snacks or Saturday meals for students – for sustenance and relationship-building.

At Germantown Elementary School, Principal Karen Soneira has taken the gesture even further by offering a holiday dinner for her families. In its second year, the school expects to double the number of participants for this year’s gathering.

“Families have traditions, so I thought it would be nice for the Germantown family to have its own tradition,” explains Soneira. “That’s what family is all about. There is no way that we can truly support our children in every aspect of their learning and personal growth without doing things that bring us closer together.”

As part of the Child and Adult Care Food Program, county schools that meet certain federal requirements can serve early evening meals to students who participate in extracurricular programs, take part in after-school activities, or are enrolled in the school-age child care (SACC) program.

With a focus on sound nutrition and combating childhood hunger, every meal includes one serving of milk, two servings of fruits and vegetables, one serving of grains, and one serving of protein. Special holiday dinners like the one at Germantown can also be arranged with proper planning.

Through this federal funding and immense support from the Maryland State Department of Education’s School and Community Nutrition Programs Branch, the Anne Arundel County Public School System served more than 134,000 meals through the program in 2015.

We look forward to continuing this “communal meal” tradition in the new year!



Jodi Risse, Supervisor of School Nutrition Services, Anne Arundel County Public Schools