Md. Food Bank says it’s still full steam ahead, needs all hands on deck
MARYLAND – The Maryland Food Bank says after the past year of helping folks going hungry during the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re not stopping now. “It hit so many people so hard. The number of food insecure people in our state grew from 1.5 million to 2.5 million. So, in a state that – in a lot of ways – people feel good about with its economic vitality historically, we really were exposed to this pandemic just like any other state was,” said President and CEO Carmen Del Guercio.
Del Guercio says although the Maryland Food Bank has dealt with all kinds of crises over the past 40 years, this one was the hardest to get through. But with that in mind, Del Guercio says he thinks the resiliency that the food bank and Marylanders displayed shows they’re ready to handle whatever may come their way in the future. “In crises like this, you learn a lot about your systems and your network and your stakeholders. What we saw was a tremendous amount of resiliency. Our partner network, by and large, stayed open and operational,” said Del Guercio.
Del Guercio tells 47ABC that on the Eastern Shore specifically, the food bank distributed 50% more food than they did the year before. Across the state, the food bank gave out more than 56 million pounds of food. Del Guercio says the price tag for all that food was close to $24 million. “We normally would have bought maybe $6 million. So, we could make sure that our partner network was there for people in need. It’s been a pretty dramatic shift for us,” said Del Guercio.
Del Guercio says all of that effort couldn’t have been possible without the volunteers and partner organizations across the state. But he adds now more than ever, the food bank needs all hands on deck. “Despite some of the positivity that you’re hearing around positivity rates and vaccinations being more available, the fact is there is not vaccine for food insecurity. We’re going to be dealing with this heightened level of need for an extended period of time,” said Del Guercio.