Deborah Flateman thinks about those who go hungry every day of the year.
And there are many to worry about.
There are nearly 6 million people who live in Maryland, according to a 2014 population estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau. One in eight Marylanders is food insecure, according to the Maryland Food Bank.
The Maryland Food Bank is working to change those odds. One way is through Hunger Action Month, which takes place during September.
Flateman, president and CEO of the Maryland Food Bank, talked to the Greater Baltimore Committee about the awareness campaign, which she said is one way to create a heightened awareness around the issue of hunger.
“We’ve realized that the Maryland Food Bank does such a great job that we’re almost under the radar,” she said. “Hunger Action Month gives us the opportunity to step out and get the public motivated and engaged behind ending hunger in Maryland.”
Despite the food bank’s mission to end hunger throughout the state – in every jurisdiction excluding Montgomery and Prince George’s counties – there are 90 million missing meals annually.
“We’ve got a long way to go to end hunger,” Flateman said. “Hunger is a 365 day a year issue.”
The food bank has three facilities statewide: one in Baltimore, one in Salisbury and one in Hagerstown.
The Maryland Food Bank has been innovative when it comes to cultivating donations of food and funds, Flateman said.
“We’ve been very creative and very successful in growing our distribution,” she said. “We have found a lot of food partners.”
Distribution has grown from 10 million pounds in FY 2007 to a projected 53 million pounds in FY 2015, Flateman said.
“We have better than quintupled our distribution, but it hasn’t been without great cost,” she said. “We continue to try to make up for missing meals. We need to establish a deep and everlasting donor pool, people who want to see hunger end in Maryland.”
The Maryland Food Bank’s mission to end hunger is critical to so many Marylanders who rely on its vital services, said Donald C. Fry, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee.
“Helping to serve the hungry is one of those basic needs that all of us can appreciate,” he said. “There is tremendous opportunity for the business community to contribute to the food bank by donating food, money or time to ensure people have access to food.”
“We think of urban areas as being the most desperate, but there are food deserts in every community across the entire state,” said Flateman, referring to urban or rural areas lacking access to fresh and affordable food. “It is about access to food in the end.”
By the numbers:
- 44,200,000: Pounds of food distributed in Maryland in FY 2014
- 13,000,000: Pounds of food distributed in Baltimore City in FY 2014
- 503,650: Food insecure individuals in the Maryland Food Bank’s service area, according to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap tool
- 1979: Year the Maryland Food Bank opened
- 1,250: Statewide distribution partners
- 72: Farms that take part in the Maryland Food Bank Farm to Food Bank
- 3: The number of Maryland Food Bank facilities statewide
How you can get involved:
- Donate to the Maryland State Police and Department of Transportation Food Drive
- Learn how you can donate food, money or time here
Learn more about Hunger Action Month here.