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Humans of Calvert County, Sarah Merranko & Anita Santoyo
“I used to serve on what was called the Governor’s Partnership to End Childhood Hunger. I was asked to sit on it with government officials, and people from non-profit and private sectors who were all trying to solve the issue of childhood hunger in Maryland. Well, I quickly became aware of how the system was set-up based on certain parameters. Calvert barely qualified for the free and reduced meals program because our rural poverty is so spread out that when they would do the measurements by zip code, overall we weren’t qualifying. They bent the rules and actually and got into every school here. But the part Calvert never participated in was the summer meals program. The problem we’ve always had in the county is access. End Hunger serves as a warehouse where we serve as a distributor to the smaller food pantries all throughout the county. Because those food pantries, many of them which are located in small churches, are close to the people who need them. We don’t have public busses, or Uber, or easy ways for people to get around.
So when the schools shut down for the coronavirus, everyone knew there were going to be thousands of kids who were relying on these free and reduced meals, essentially breakfast, lunch as snack, who were going to have no food because they were home and had no way to access food. I contacted Cathy Ring who is our Director of Operations at End Hunger and she immediately began to figure out what could we send to kids homes would be shelf stable, that kids and young as nine and ten could make if they were home alone. She ordered a ton of food from Maryland Food Bank. Cereal, and shelf stable milk and juices, and meals that microwave easily, but didn’t necessarily need to be refrigerated. And we just started getting this food out. And we have also been going around raising the money for this which we didn’t have, and still don’t have. We have no funding for this other than what we’ve been able to raise independently. This week alone we have provided over 7,000 meals at around $2.00 per meal. So that where the fundraising efforts come in. And that’s just for these meals. We are still stocking the food pantries too because as the virus closed down more places, our clientele numbers are going up too.
Our county has been so great in supporting one another from the schools, to people in the community who have volunteered to hand out meals, to those who are donating to keep kids and families fed. I think in the end the the whole kindness factor in this county has gone up. So if you look for the silver lining I think people are going to care more for one another and many of us will be more grateful for what we have. But with at least four more weeks of schools being closed, and others who may struggle beyond that due to the economy, we need community support more than ever.
If you are looking to help your community there are a few things you can do.
1. Donate There are two main reasons we’re looking for people to donate money in a time like this. First, we don’t want to pull food out of the grocery stores to stock our shelves, because that creates a different food shortage in the county. When you directly donate to us, we place an order that comes directly to our warehouse by then truckload. Second, when we order the food, we get it way cheaper than when you buy it in the store. So the value of that donation goes much farther in helping those in need in our community. And $.94 out of every dollar donated goes directly into the programs. Additionally, Facebook is waving all the normal fees with the donate feature, so you can click on that too.
2. Help us identify a child who needs our help by calling the End Hunger hotline at 410-474-2548. We will cross reference in case the kids are already on the list with the schools, and then we use those numbers to determine how much food each school needs.
Thank you to everyone who has already donated, I’m so proud to say that in Calvert County we still take care of each other. I think it’s what makes our country really special.”