Baltimore schools are closed today following riots in response to the funeral of Freddie Gray. Gray died of spinal injuries he sustained while being arrested by Baltimore police, seemingly for no reason. Opinions on the riots vary, but one thing's for sure: The citywide closures mean Baltimore families are missing out on numerous services, including a place for kids to stay while parents are at work, and free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches. Tens of thousands of kids may be affected, as 84 percent of students in the city of Baltimore qualify for reduced-price lunches, the Baltimore Sun reported in 2014.
In response, churches, libraries, city recreation centers, local shops, and other organizations are offering free meals and other services. The Penn North Community Resource Center, for one, is offering free childcare, as the International Business Times reported. Lists of locations where families can pick up meals are circulating on Twitter and Instagram under the hashtag #BaltimoreLunch. Those who wish to donate may send food to those locations too. (Although at least one organization reports it has enough donations. Find others here.)
As many businesses are closed today, it can be especially crucial that community centers stay open. Keeping such organizations open may even reduce violence by giving students alternate, peaceful places to spend their time and express their thoughts. Many of the rioters around Mondawmin Mall, the origin of the riots, were local students, the Baltimore Sun reported yesterday—the same students recreation centers aim to serve.