Perdue awards Maryland Food Bank $25,000 to expand School Pantry Program
The innovative School Pantry Program establishes food pantries in schools with high levels of participation in the Free and Reduced Price School Meal Program (FARM). School pantries offer a reliable source of food for children and families in need and also address lagging parental involvement by engaging parents as pantry volunteers.
The presentation on May 15 at Beaver Run Elementary School in Salisbury coincided with the delivery of more than 3,900 pounds of food by the food bank. The food was distributed to children and families at the school on Friday, May 17. The Perdue’s grant will ensure deliveries like this continue in the 2013-2014 schoolyear.
“We are extremely grateful for Perdue’s continued support of this vital program,” said Jennifer Small, branch manager at the Maryland Food Bank-Eastern Shore. “Since launching a little over a year ago, the School Pantry Program has grown from two Wicomico County schools to six – thanks in large part to their leadership.”
The program’s growth comes in response to Feeding America’s recent Map the Meal Gap Report, which shows that 13,270 people in Wicomico County are currently food insecure, uncertain of where their next meal is coming. Of that, 4,130 – 31 percent - are children.
“The School Pantry Program is proving to be a powerful tool in the fight against childhood hunger,” said Maryland Food Bank president and chief executive officer Deborah Flateman. “Schools are trusted institutions that are part of families’ everyday lives, so they’re the single best place to reach children at risk of hunger. We’re thrilled to have Perdue by our side, helping us serve many more children and families in need.”
“Perdue and the Maryland Food Bank share in the belief that no one should have to go hungry in this day and time,” explains Bill Hetherington, executive director of the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation. “Through its School Pantry Program, the Maryland Food Bank is able to provide a valuable avenue to get food to families in Wicomico County who desperately need it. We’ve seen firsthand the positive impact it’s having in the community. At Perdue, we’re proud to help the food bank expand its network of school pantries throughout schools in the county through funding provided by the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation.”
Partnership To Fight Hunger
Ron Willey, President of the Wicomico County Board of Education, adds, “Schools are always looking for ways to connect with the families of their students, and the food pantries at Chipman Elementary, East Salisbury Elementary, Glen Avenue Elementary, Wicomico Middle, West Salisbury Elementary and Beaver Run Elementary are another way to strengthen that connection. Being able to provide families with food – something that is at the same time so basic and so critical for health and well-being – allows us as a school system and a community to support the success of students and families. We thank the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation and the Maryland Food Bank for partnering with us for the School Pantry Program.”
The $25,000 grant is the latest in a long line of support from Perdue and the Foundation, which funded the launch of the School Pantry Program on the Eastern Shore in February 2012, and also previously supported the Eastern Shore Branch’s refrigerator/freezer expansion; distribution of holiday meal boxes; and ongoing general operating costs. Over the past 10 years, Perdue has donated more than $300,000 and millions of pounds of high-quality food products to the Maryland Food Bank, which serves a network of 600 soup kitchens, pantries, shelters and other community-based organizations across the state. Approximately one-third of these network partners is located on the Eastern Shore and served by the Maryland Food Bank- Eastern Shore Branch.
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