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Eliminating Stigmas Associated with the Free and Reduced Meals Program

County Executive Calvin Ball and HCPSS Superintendent Michael Martirano discuss the supports that are available to qualifying families and demonstrate the lunch-line process for students who receive FARMs.


[Background Music Playing. County Executive Calvin Ball and HCPSS Superintendent Michael Martirano stand together in a school lunch line.]

(Calvin Ball, County Executive): Even in a county as blessed as Howard County, many families are struggling financially. Too many of our children are coming to school hungry, tired or full of anxiety of what’s going on at home. How can we expect a child to thrive academically with some of those struggles?

[ Graphic slide -

Free & Reduced Meals Program

Free or Reduced -

  • Breakfast and lunch
  • Tuition at Howard Community College
  • Camps, Sports, and Child Care
  • SAT, ACT and AP Exams
  • And Much More!


(Michael Martirano, HCPSS Superintendent): It doesn’t need to be this way. There are supports available for families that provides assistance to students without labeling them. It’s called the Free and Reduced Meals Program (FARMs) and it is a much different program now than it was when I was a child.

[Two side-by-side videos of Mr. Ball and Dr. Martirano being served lunch. Both have access to the same food options and are able to easily key in their student number at the cashier station.]

(Ball): One of us is experiencing the lunch line at school the way a child receiving FARMs does. The other is experiencing it as any other student would. Can you tell the difference? Of course not, because there is no difference. The experience is identical to ensure that stigmas aren’t associated with students receiving supports.

(Martirano): Every Howard County family should check their eligibility status. Visit our school system website for more information or talk to your child’s principal.

(Ball): Dr. Martirano and I are both dedicated to every child receiving a top-notch education and that begins with making sure that each student has the services that they need to have a happy, healthy experience.

[Visit the “Free & Reduced Meals Program" page at]