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To the Editor:

Families must have consistent and reliable access to healthy foods in order to thrive, but access doesn’t stop at our Veterans (“VA and MAZON partner to support Veteran food security,” July 15). Veterans are not immune to experiencing food insecurity nor uncertainty in a job market. However, it’s important to also acknowledge the impact on other Marylanders. Prior to the pandemic, there were more than 600,000 Marylanders on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) according to the Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS). These include seniors, children, people with disabilities, and families earning low wages, and unemployed workers. When the full impact of the pandemic hit, hundreds of thousands of Marylanders lost jobs and income. In the month of April alone, more than 149,000 SNAP applications were filed according to DHS, the most in a single month in the state’s history.

SNAP is the nation’s first line of defense against food insecurity. Food banks and food pantries that provide emergency food to hundreds of households across the state, but they alone can’t meet the growing demand.  In fact, research shows SNAP provides nine meals for every one meal provided by food banks according to Feeding America.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge the entire globe, thousands of older Marylanders are struggling to put food on the table, let alone stockpile enough food to shelter in place. SNAP is helpful in getting seniors access to nutritious food in order for them to maintain good health.  

As department of social services closures continue in our state, we must continue providing eligible residents with avenues to apply for SNAP benefits.

That is why Maryland Hunger Solutions has a toll-free number — 1-866- 821-5552 — that can be accessed from anywhere in the state. Maryland residents wishing to apply for SNAP can call the toll-free number at no charge, leave a message and Maryland Hunger Solutions staff will get back to them and walk them through the application process. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unfortunate impact on the lives and jobs of tens of thousands of Marylanders but we can get through this together by making sure our neighbors have the assistance that they need to put food on the table.

Sincerely,

Michael J. Wilson