The number of Marylanders without daily access to quality, affordable, nutritious food is on the rise, with the Maryland Food Bank recently reporting that the need rose from 8% in December to 32% in June.
To help meet that growing need, the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) has awarded $2.3 million in funding to nine organizations and individuals working to address food insecurity.
“We hold seriously the critical role of our hospitals and member organizations as anchor institutions in local communities,” said Mohan Suntha, president and CEO of UMMS, in a statement. “We recognize the importance not only of providing world-class health care but also working beyond the physical walls of our hospitals to serve as an engine to help drive economic and societal change in Maryland’s communities in which we are privileged to serve.”
Among the grant recipients is Baltimore Community Lending. They will partner with Cureate, a woman-owned small business that’s building a food and beverage supply, to provide “technical assistance, education, training and capacity building” to farmers, growers, bakers, and manufacturers.
“This grant will provide valuable training and technical assistance to entrepreneurs to help their businesses thrive and provide jobs and fresh food to the community,” said Cureate founder and CEO Kim Bryden in a statement.
The Food Access Support Services Team (FASST) through Meal on Wheels will also receive funding. The grant will allow UMMS data analytics experts to identify UMMS patients who are experiencing food insecurity, provide nutritional guidance, and monitor patients’ health results.
Other organizations include the Maryland Food Bank, who will continue providing produce and shelf-stable food around the state; First Fruits Farm, which assists with farm expansion to distribute fresh produce; Capital Area Food Bank, a mobile market in Prince George’s County; Caring Cupboard, which provides meals to Anne Arundel County residents; Harford Community Action Agency, which feeds Harford County residents; and Southern Maryland Food Bank, which provides meals to Charles County residents.
“A priority goal of our grant-making efforts is to directly support positive outcomes for our patients and potential patients, and to support small business entrepreneurs who are focused on building local food eco-systems in some of our most food and income insecure communities,” said Chuck Tildon, vice president of external affairs for UMMS, in a statement.
Also as part of this funding program, University of Maryland Medical Center and Cureate will collaborate on a study of a food processing plant, which would supply quality food and jobs for Baltimore residents.