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Md. Food Bank sets $28M goal to fund Phase 2 of COVID-19 response plan


Phase 2 of the Maryland Food Bank’s COVID-19 Food Access Response Plan focuses on near-term efforts that will be needed to fight hunger through the end of 2020 and into 2021. (The Daily Record/File photo)

To keep up with growing demands for food from an increasing number of Marylanders seeking assistance, the Maryland Food Bank (MFB) has developed a $28 million goal for its year-long plan that provides a blueprint for the amount of food and financial resources needed to maintain the high volume of activity MFB has seen since COVID-19 first emerged in mid-March.

In anticipation of this surge in demand, MFB has been planning its next phase of work to support individuals and families who have been impacted by COVID-19 in the food bank’s service area, which includes the city of Baltimore and 21 Maryland counties. This Phase 2 of the organization’s COVID-19 Food Access Response Plan focuses on near-term efforts that will be needed to fight hunger through the end of 2020 and into 2021.

Specifically, the food bank will concentrate on expanding food access to those who are struggling most under COVID-19, including Marylanders who are newly unemployed as a result of COVID-related business closures and layoffs, members of communities of color, which have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and homebound or self-quarantined/quarantined and cannot leave their homes safely to access food.

According to a number of economists, public health experts, and disaster response experts MFB consulted, these three groups are facing an inordinate number of challenges that the food bank is working to better understand so that it can ensure those most deeply impacted by the virus are continuing to receive food as the need intensifies. MFB will also use data and mapping resources to determine where these populations are located in order to deploy new and expanded food distribution methods in areas of greatest need.

Simultaneously, the food bank will work to improve the nutritional quality of the food being distributed by swapping the current contents of Back Up Boxes (BUBs) for healthier foods, exploring the distribution of produce boxes to supplement the shelf-stable items found in BUBs, and including nutrition education inserts and recipes into these BUBs.

This work will supplement MFB’s accelerated efforts to respond to COVID-19, which have been in place since the coronavirus first emerged. From March through August, the food bank distributed more than 31.4 million pounds of food vs. 15.9 million pounds during the same period in 2019, a 97% increase over last year. MFB is also spending more money than ever before to purchase food, having seen a 414% increase in the amount of money spent ($13.7 million against $2.7 million) between March and August.

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