UM Charles Regional Helps to Address Food Insecurity During the COVID19 Pandemic
University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center (UM CRMC) is continuing to fulfill its community health mission during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today the La Plata-based hospital announced that it is making a $14,400 donation to fight food insecurity in Charles County.
This donation is supported by CRMC Foundation, a non-profit entity set up to enhance the mission of the hospital, and the University of Maryland Medical System.
The community hospital is making the donation to the Southern Maryland Food Bank. Since the start of the pandemic, the Waldorf-based organization has been making "Snack Saks," filled with food and grocery donations that help feed children, and their families, who participate in the county's weekday school meal program. The donation will help fund 1,600 Snack Saks, which can be used to make approximately 20,000 meals.
"Addressing food insecurity in Charles County, which has been worsened by the pandemic, is a top priority for UM Charles Regional, our public sector, and our nonprofit partners," said Noel Cervino, President and CEO of UM CRMC. "This partnership will help children and families that are experiencing significant financial hardship as a result of the pandemic."
Food insecurity, defined by the United States Department of Agriculture as the disruption of food intake or eating patterns because of lack of money and other resources, has been exacerbated by social distancing measures that, while necessary to fight the pandemic, have also led to increased unemployment and other economic disruptions locally and nationally.
Prior to the COVID pandemic, approximately 37% (~10,000) of Charles County students received free and reduced school meals. Charles County also has eight Title 1 schools, at which at least 40% of enrolled students live in low-income households.
The Southern Maryland Food Bank collaborates with pantries, shelters, group homes and soup kitchens to provide direct service to isolated and resource poor areas while coordinating a number of outreach programs including Snack Saks, Senior Saks, Seeds of Hope Garden, Giving Hope Food Pantry, and Meals and Hope Mobile Soup Kitchen. Due to the Maryland state school closures, eligible school-aged children would otherwise be unable to continue receiving the Snack Saks, which provided them enough food to feed themselves and their family over the weekends throughout the school year.
UM CRMC has provided additional support to the Food Bank, including volunteers and coordination with real estate brokerage, Madison Marquette Real Estate Services, to provide access to an empty retail facility to use as a larger food packing site and help meet the increased need.