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By Roslyn Jones
AFRO Faith Squad

This Easter holiday, thanks to a partnership with two local schools in the Howard County school system, The Hill Church and Ministries as well as the Rachell L. Gray Community Foundation, 50 families will receive food baskets containing the makings of an Easter feast with meat and all the trimmings. “Thank you so much! Our families have benefitted from the generosity of your congregation in the past, and we are so thankful for the assistance,” said one nearby school counselor.

Feeding children is an ongoing and important mandate for this church.

“It really breaks my heart to know that children in this country actually don’t have enough food on a daily basis,” said Bishop Antoine McClurkin, pastor of The Hill Church and Ministries. “With so many indulging in excesses of all kinds, our children should be the last to suffer.”

According to Feeding America, the largest charity in this country working to end hunger, in Maryland, 543,650 people are facing hunger; 1 in 8 of which, or 167,020, are children. Feeding America has estimated an additional $298,916 million per year is needed to meet their food needs.

In 2020, Congress temporarily increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by providing Emergency Allotments to help low-income individuals and families across the US deal with the financial hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those emergency allotments will return to standard SNAP benefit amounts, without the added supplement.

The loss of emergency SNAP benefits has left individuals and families without the security of monthly food assistance, and although charities provide some relief to families, additional government support is needed to fully meet the needs of those affected.

Although these numbers are quite alarming, a 2021 Childhood Report ranked Maryland #30 of the 50 states, in terms of how well they were protecting and providing for children during the pandemic.

The Rachell L. Gray Community Foundation is a 501c3 public charity in Columbia, MD that operates The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), a government approved program which provides monthly distribution for income-based families and individuals. The foundation also provides additional assistance and resources for families experiencing various hardships.

“The union of these community partners was a match made in heaven,” said Bishop McClurkin, “and provides an opportunity to feed the spiritual as well as the natural. Easter is a great time to make this provision, but it should come every day.”

Roslyn Jones is one of the first members of the AFRO Faith Squad, local writers who share their church’s