Crownsville, MD – To combat food insecurity and increase access to nutritious food options, the Anne Arundel County Food Bank (AACFB) unveiled its Mobile Food Pantry during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, September 18. The event featured remarks by AACFB CEO Leah Paley, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, county Community Engagement Officer Courtney Buiniskis, and M&T Bank Senior Vice President Moke Wolff.
The mobile pantry, housed in a custom 2021 Ford F-59 Step Van, is set to serve communities in Lothian and Harwood, addressing the critical issue of transportation limitations that often hinder residents’ access to healthy food. The launch comes at a time when Anne Arundel County, despite being one of the wealthiest in the state, grapples with food insecurity affecting approximately 35 percent of its residents, including individuals and families who fall below the federal poverty level or are employed but unable to meet their basic needs.
The Mobile Food Pantry is equipped to distribute a diverse range of food items, including fresh produce, frozen lean meats, dry packaged foods, and necessities directly to underserved communities. This initiative is expected to significantly impact the transportation gap and empower individuals to choose their preferred food items while reducing food waste.
AACFB Chief Executive Officer Leah Paley emphasized the importance of this initiative, stating, “It is our sincere hope that the mobile food pantry will help eliminate the transportation barrier for residents who do not live near a food distribution site. Increased access to nutritious food supports health and wellness but also works to honor cultural and family traditions.”
The Mobile Food Pantry boasts a capacity of approximately 3,000 pounds of food and essential items, enabling AACFB to serve around 100 households with each visit. The pantry is well-equipped with six racks for shelf-stable items and a refrigerator and freezer for perishable and frozen items. Locations for the Mobile Food Pantry’s service points are identified through collaboration with county agencies.
This significant initiative coincided with Hunger Action Month, a nationwide campaign that unites national organizations and local and state food banks to raise awareness about food insecurity. The AACFB’s Mobile Food Pantry launch aligns with the broader mission to address hunger issues in Anne Arundel County and across the nation.
As the Mobile Food Pantry aims to provide vital nourishment to underserved communities, it represents a promising step towards reducing food insecurity, ensuring healthier lives, and creating a stronger, more resilient community. The AACFB and its partners are committed to making a tangible difference in the lives of those who rely on their support, exemplifying the power of community collaboration in the fight against hunger.