BALTIMORE (August 15, 2022) – The University of Maryland Medical System today announced it is providing more than $2.3 million in grants across the state with a strategic focus on addressing issues of food insecurity and employment. The UMMS Community Impact Grant Program is awarding funding to nine individual organizations and one collaborative serving individuals across the System’s footprint in Maryland.
The grant distribution includes $25,000 for Southern Maryland Food Bank to help stock the pantries of Charles County residents who are experiencing food insecurity identified by the team at the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center in La Plata.
“We hold seriously the critical role of our hospitals and member organizations as anchor institutions in local communities,” said Mohan Suntha, MD, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer of UMMS. “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.”
Food insecurity is becoming more prominent in the state. The Maryland Food Bank recently reported they were experiencing significant increases in the number of families across the state experiencing food insecurity, noting the need has risen from 8% last December to 32% as of June.
“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.
A major grant recipient is the Food Access Support Services Team (FASST) through Meals on Wheels, which is receiving $775,600 to fund a three-year initiative aimed at addressing food insecurity issues statewide. This grant is to a collaboration of food providers who will partner with UMMS data analytics experts to identify a cohort of 1,500 UMMS patients who are experiencing food insecurity. A team will provide these individuals with health nutrition expertise and will track the health outcomes of these patients individually and as a group.
Baltimore Community Lending is receiving $630,000 and will work with Cureate, who will be providing technical assistance, education, training, and capacity building via Cureate Courses to four groups of food-focused entrepreneurs (farmers, growers, bakers, manufacturers) focused on creating locally-sourced food ecosystems in communities. UMMS member organizations will partner with BCL and Cureate on initiatives in their local communities. Cureate is a for-profit, woman-owned small business that is building an empowered food and beverage supply to meet changing consumer demand. Cureate has partnered with the University of Maryland Medical Center, the downtown Baltimore flagship academic hospital of UMMS, since 2018 on supplier diversity and local sourcing issues.
“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 Kim Bryden, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Cureate. Cureate plans to assemble four cohort sessions, with the first happening this fall, for entrepreneurs located in Baltimore City and Baltimore, Charles, and Prince George’s counties.
Five other organizations across the state will be receiving a total of $720,000 to address food insecurity issues as well:
- Maryland Food Bank: $330,000 to support providing fresh produce and shelf-stable food to food insecure residents in targeted zip codes in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Harford County, and the Eastern Shore.
- Capital Area Food Bank: $200,000 to support a mobile market program serving Prince George’s County
- First Fruits Farm: $75,000 to support the expansion of the farm to provide fresh produce statewide
- Caring Cupboard: $50,000 to provide meals to food insecure residents of identified Anne Arundel County neighborhoods
- Harford County Community Action Agency: $40,000 to provide meals to food insecure residents of identified Harford County neighborhoods
- Southern Maryland Food Bank: $25,000 to provide meals to food insecure residents of identified Charles County neighborhoods
Community Impact Teams at each of the UMMS member organizations, comprised of Population Health, Community Health, and hospital leadership, will be engaged in collaborative efforts with these local organizations.
The grants also include $85,000 for the University of Maryland Medical Center, the System’s academic flagship hospital, and Cureate to partner on a feasibility study for a first-of-its-kind food processing plant in Baltimore. The plant is needed as a mechanism to create additional local food capacity and provide quality food and jobs for local residents.
The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation will also be receiving a grant of $120,000 to support STEM education for youth in communities served by UMMS member organizations.