By Ryan Hogan
Special to the AFRO
The Maryland Food Bank continues to work toward ending hunger this holiday season as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. The food bank has been providing assistance throughout the course of the pandemic with the help of its various partners from the Baltimore community like corporations, grocery stores, farms, breweries and even the Baltimore Ravens.
A massive month-long initiative was launched at the beginning of November to provide food assistance throughout the upcoming holidays. According to the Maryland Food Bank, approximately 1 in 4 Marylanders are currently facing food insecurity, and the situation is getting more dire due to the job losses related to COVID -19. The U.S. Department of Labor reports there were 11,418 unemployment claims filed in Maryland last week alone.
“Nearly 37 sites in Baltimore will be distributing holiday meals, which amount to nearly 6,500 holiday meal boxes distributed to families in need. Our efforts across the state will equate to approximately 25,000 families fed with holiday meals during this time,” said Denelle Joynes, of Pikesville, the public relations and grant writer for the food bank.
The holiday meal boxes contain all the fixings of a classic holiday dinner including stuffing, mac and cheese, yams and greens, along with other non-perishable items; and each box comes with a turkey.
Although this will be a very different holiday season this year, the organization said families in need can still have a nice holiday meal.
“Since I’m not working due to COVID, I’ve been struggling for the past couple of months and with the food bank helping me I’ll be able to provide a holiday meal for my kids, and it’s just a joy to have an organization that can give us food and help us during our hard times,” said Ashley Wilson, a 22-year-old waitress from West Baltimore.
Started in Baltimore in 1979 by civil rights crusader and nurse Ann Miller, the Maryland Food Bank happens to have been the first on the east coast. Now more than 40 years later the pandemic has changed the way it operates. There is a COVID-safe system in place to tackle this essential community service.
“We set up drive-through distributions so people can drive by, then our volunteers and partners can have them pop their trunks and place the food directly into their vehicles,” said Joynes.
The Thanksgiving season is the current focus, but there will be urgent needs for food through the end of the year.
“The number one way of involvement that helps us the most is donating. Monetary donations go a long way. The food supply chain has tightened a little bit, but with our wholesale buying power we are able to basically turn one dollar donated into up to three meals, so every donation helps,” Joynes said.
To learn more about how to support the Maryland Food Bank, visit www.mdfoodbank.org/donate/.