Each Baltimore Curriculum Project (BCP) partner plays a meaningful role in our ability to meet our mission and the missions of our six neighborhood conversion charter schools. This includes our overarching partner, Baltimore City Public Schools.

This month, we celebrate So What Else and its partnership with Frederick Elementary School (FES).

Who is So What Else?

The name “So What Else” is based on the idea of asking those in need how they can help: “So what else can we do?” The nonprofit was founded in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the level of systemic hunger. The nonprofit focuses on serving others in the Baltimore-Washington metro area by providing families in need with food security, access to basic necessities, and high-quality out-of-school time programs in literacy, athletics, and the visual and performing arts. So What Else also offers volunteer opportunities for young people and all ages to give back. 

Since 2020, the program has scaled considerably. The organization has “rescued” approximately 68 million pounds of food, and today, the Baltimore chapter hosts over 28 food distributions, community deliveries, and drop-offs throughout the region. Some distributions are open to the public while others are only for clients of the organizations they partner with, like Frederick Elementary School (FES). The schedule for many of their distributions changes weekly, and they post their updates on their Instagram and Facebook pages. 

How does the partnership between FES and So What Else work?

The FES partnership with So What Else began during the 2022 – 2023 school year. Started by FES Community Engagement & Partnerships lead Najah Hammed and FES Out-of-School Time Director Janikka Simms, the pair organized monthly food pantry deliveries and sponsored a martial arts enrichment club for the FES after school program. Currently, Ms. Simms is the point of contact for the FES food pantry. She oversees the monthly food distribution, with help from other staff and parent volunteers. 

Held on the last Wednesday of every month, the So What Else Food Pantry at FES is exclusively for Frederick Elementary families. If you are an FES student or family member and would like to learn more, please contact Nikka at 443-475-6635. 

The food FES receives for distribution – both fresh and canned – is available on a first come, first served basis. The school gets a variety of foods, mostly from the Giant food chain. Food has included bread, fruit, yogurt, vegetables, pasta, beans, soups, hummus, sour cream, apple cider, milk, canned tuna, chicken, applesauce, cottage cheese and pastries. 

The pantry stays open until the resources they have that day run out. As most of their fresh food is recovered, the variety and quantity can change from month to month.    

“It’s a pleasure to have this partnership with So What Else,” Ms. Simms says, “supporting our FES families and witnessing the smiles when families receive the food and learning resources.” If a regular family doesn’t come to the pantry as she expects, Simms reaches out. If there are items left, she sets a bag aside for them. 

How will the FES food pantry operate this summer?

According to Ms. Simms, the So What Else team will hold an FES food pantry at the end June and another one at the end of July. They’ll take off the month of August and begin again in September to be available to families during the next school year.   

The So What Else Baltimore Resource Center

In 2023, So What Else Baltimore opened its first brick-and-mortar Resource Center and Pantry, located in the heart of Southwest Baltimore. This new location allows the chapter to further support the Carrollton Ridge community, which is near the panty. Though most clients are from that area, all Maryland residents are welcome to stop by and pick up from the center.

The Baltimore Resource Center is open every Tuesday through Thursday, from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. Items available for pick-up include clothing, shoes, non-perishable food items, diapers, cleaning supplies, hygiene kits and more. As with the food pantry, items at the Baltimore Resource Center are available on a first come, first served basis.

Thank you, So What Else, for your service to FES and to communities throughout the region.

Contact: Justin Weeber, Baltimore Director of Hunger Relief, justinweeber@sowhatelse.org

About the Baltimore Curriculum Project

Baltimore Curriculum Project (BCP) is the largest operator of local neighborhood, public charter schools in Maryland. We create safe, supportive learning environments for children PK-8 by providing innovative, research-based educational strategies, intensive teacher training and extensive support for administration and staff. We support our local neighborhood needs by tailoring our resources and support through community partnerships.

As one of the longest-running charter operators in Maryland, our schools are regularly recognized as some of the most highly acclaimed neighborhood charter schools in the state. 

Pimlico Elementary / Middle School

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