The Maryland Food Bank Tuesday announced it reached its goal of $12 million to fund Phase 1 of the organization’s COVID-19 Food Access Response Plan.
The organization’s 90-day, $12 million plan was created in mid-March and laid out the amount of food and financial resources that would be needed to help Baltimore and the 21 Maryland counties that fall into MFB’s service area navigate the first three months of COVID-19. The sudden surge in need coupled with supply chain challenges meant the food bank has had to purchase even more food to distribute, rather than rely on mostly donated product.
MFB’s COVID-19 response received a critical infusion of public funding in early May, when the State of Maryland directed $6 million in federal dollars from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to the food bank to support food assistance efforts statewide. MFB was able to fund the remaining $6 million through individual, foundation and corporate donations.
The state grant stipulated that $4 million in funding will be allocated out to local jurisdictions, while the remaining funds will be used to purchase additional food, produce emergency food kits for distribution to the homebound and increase the number of food distribution events available to Marylanders facing hunger.
On June 1, the food bank began to award sub-grants of state funding to more than 200 of its strongest network partners, who were selected based on location, local need and their potential to support increased demand. The awards will allow these organizations to increase the amount of food coming into their counties and being distributed throughout the summer months.
As second responders, MFB’s staff, volunteers and partners have played a critical role in distributing nearly double the amount of food over the past several months, compared to the same period of time last year. In May 2020, the food bank spent nearly $2.4 million on food versus $381,000 in May 2019 – a 525% increase. Much of this increase is being fulfilled with food that was purchased as demand vastly outstripped donated inventories.
Food bank officials say the need for charitable food will likely remain high for the foreseeable future with so many facing underlying health conditions or sick with the virus itself more and more Marylanders are unable to work. Others have been affected by economic conditions, resulting in unemployment that has led to challenges paying bills and meeting basic needs.
Pre-COVID, MFB analysis estimated that more than 1.5 million Marylanders experienced food insecurity, including residents living below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) as well as those who are considered ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed, United Way). More recently, Feeding America’s recession-year data suggests that upwards of 900,000 more people may be affected because of COVID’s impending, long-term economic impact.
The threat posed by COVID-19 will continue to put pressure on Maryland families, and MFB is committed to offering a strong, ongoing response to ensure that good quality, nutritious food continues to be available to all those impacted by the pandemic and the economic disruption it has caused.
Last year, the food bank’s statewide network of food assistance brought enough resources together to provide the equivalent of 110,000 meals every day (more than 40 million meals annually) to hungry children, seniors, veterans and hard-working families, meeting the immediate needs of hungry Marylanders while simultaneously working to create pathways out of hunger.