By Jillian Amodio
Feeding the hungry is an ambitious project, but distributing 40,000 pounds of Perdue protein is a good start. Food insecurity is an issue for many families and has been further amplified during the coronavirus pandemic. According to Joanna Warner, director of communications for the Maryland Food Bank, before the pandemic Anne Arundel County had around 189,000 individuals identified as food insecure. The new estimate is about five times higher and the need continues to grow.
Across the county, efforts have been made to address the number of families needing assistance, including meals served through the Anne Arundel County Public School system, which has provided nearly two million meals since the start of the pandemic. David Mandell, Deputy Director of the City of Annapolis says demand is high among area families. “We are doing everything we can to meet the needs of our community.”
Beyond county-based services, some locals are taking a personal stand against hunger as well.
When West Annapolis friends Diana Love and Amy Marshall (both mothers) learned of the struggles one local family was facing, they decided to take action. “This was a classmate of our children,” Love says. The classmate’s father had died as a result of COVID-19-related complications. The family was self-isolating and unable to provide food for their household. Love and Marshall immediately took the lead, providing food and necessities to the family. But it became clear that this was just one family of many facing hardships.
“Many of our neighbors are hardworking people who are on our children’s sports teams, in our children’s classrooms, members of our churches, and our friends.” says Love.
They created a pop-up pantry to meet the needs and offer a range of services for families.
The West Annapolis Pop-Up Pantry recently partnered with Perdue Farms who provided 40,000 pounds of protein as part of their “Delivering Hope to Our Neighbors” hunger relief initiative. Bill See, senior manager at Perdue says, “Food is something that unites us all. And we want to unite each other as a community by providing food security.”
“Every day, our neighbors within our communities are relying more on their local food banks and pantries to put a meal on the table,” adds CEO Randy Day. “As a company, we have the resources and a responsibility to help those struggling with food insecurity.”
With this donation Love says they will be able to provide for more than 500 families.
With a growing network of volunteers, their approach is one of community and friendship. They hand deliver much-needed items including toiletries, fresh produce, shelf-stable items, frozen meats, baby items, school supplies, and even assistance with applying for food stamps. For their work in the community Love and Marshall recently received a citation from the City of Annapolis, recognizing them as COVID Heroes.
“I am really big on making sure everyone has access to healthy food. Our COVID-positive families even get a special box with items like Gatorade and Tylenol,” says Love.
While providing for a family’s immediate needs is important, what Love and Marshall are striving for is to help set these families up to gain self-sufficiency. “We don’t want Annapolis to be divided between the haves and the have nots” Love says. “We are helping provide for families who currently cannot provide for themselves and gain access to resources for continued success.”
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