After 32 years of dedicated service to the Anne Arundel County Food Bank, Bruce Michalec officially retired from his position as AACFB Executive Director on December 31st, 2017.
A retirement party was held in Bruce’s honor on January 18th at the Elk’s Lodge in Edgewater where Bruce was acknowledged by many, including State Senator “Big” Ed Reilly who presented Bruce with a citation from the state of Maryland for his 32 years of service.
There were many who turned out to wish Bruce well in his retirement, including members of the AACFB Board of Directors, volunteers, long-time associates with member agencies, and other County and State agency representatives.
Susan Thomas, who has worked beside him for over 13 years, has taken the helm as Executive Director, continuing the dedicated service to those in need in Anne Arundel County that Bruce has been devoted to for the last 32 years.
Bruce Michalec’s name is, and will be, synonymous with the Anne Arundel County Food Bank, and in his retirement, he leaves a legacy that is unrivaled in the Community. Here’s to you, Bruce! Thank you just doesn’t seem to be enough.
The AACFB did not have a logo but that was to change this year!
Students in art classes at Anne Arundel Community College competed to create our new logo. Submissions were narrowed and the top 3 logos were presented to the AACFB Board of Directors for vote. The winning design was created by Emily Hawver. Emily was recognized at a luncheon at AACFB in February 2018.
In Anne Arundel County, 2 out of every 5 children live below the poverty level. The AACFB has made it a priority to provide basic nutrition to children in Anne Arundel County, who would otherwise go without. In its 4th year our Backpack Program grew 223% - assisting over 5,000 students weekly. Emphasis is placed on healthy foods, students receive fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) as well as perishable foods (yogurts and cheese).
In 2017, 6.19% of families in AA County lived below the poverty level of $24,600 (for a family of 4), up from 5.9% in 2016. In a wealthy county like Anne Arundel, where the median income is listed as $96,483, and the average rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is $1538 per month, these families struggle to put food on the table.
The AACFB saw 21% more households (from 47,685 to 57,927) accessing our member agencies and an 82% increase in the number of bags of food handed out in FY18 (from 153,949 to 280,501). AACFB is reaching more families in need, & continuously recruiting new member agencies in areas that have high levels of poverty, & therefore the greatest need for accessibly food pantries.
5.6% of senior citizens in Anne Arundel County live below the poverty line – with an income of $11,880 for an individual. ALICE reports 43% of seniors live below the ALICE threshold in Maryland. ALICE threshold is the bare minimum economic survival level that is based on local cost of living in each area. Many seniors need additional assistance beyond what is available at a standard pantry. Items such as nutritional drinks, as well as adult incontinence supplies, are not covered by Medicare and are expensive for seniors living on a fixed income. A box of 84 Depends averages $50, and a box of 24 bottles of Ensure averages $40. AACFB saw an increase in the number of agencies requesting these items, and in FY18, recruited six agency members to become Senior Pantries to provide these items to our seniors throughout Anne Arundel County to residents in need.
AACFB worked with various non-profits, the AA County Public Schools, and other agencies to provide assistance with holiday food and gifts during the 2017 holiday season. AACFB helped almost 13,000 in FY18 with food and gifts, to make the season brighter. Yumi Hogan, the first lady of Maryland, assisted AACFB on one of our gift distributions. She toured the AACFB, and made the trip with AACFB staff to the Head Start program in Annapolis to help hand out toys to the children.
Many people are paying exorbitant rates for high deductible health insurance or Medigap policies that do not cover necessary items; jeopardizing financial security for numerous A A Co residents with fixed or low incomes. Not only are hospital and doctor visits expensive, but so is the essential medical equipment necessary for those in need. To defray those costs, AACFB offers a medical loan program to the uninsured and under-insured in Anne Arundel County. Working closely with county hospitals, nurses, Dept of Aging, Social Services & other programs to identify needs, AACFB is able to ease the stress & worry. No one should have to decide whether to pay bills or buy necessary medical equipment. AACFB loans medical equipment to those who cannot afford it, and at no charge. AACFB saw an 82% increase in the number of households requesting assistance from the program in FY18. Equipment loaned this year include wheelchairs, hospital beds, walkers, hoyer lifts, nebulizers, shower seats, and much more.
The AACFB was proud to team up with the Governor Larry Hogan & his administration to receive meal kits to be distributed to those we serve & act as a distribution point for disseminating kits to other agencies in neighboring parts of the state so that they could also help Maryland families who are struggling financially.
This collaboration saw over 500,000 pounds of food distributed through AACFB, and out of that, over 150,000 pounds of food to our county.
Obesity is a top health concerns in A.A. Co. with many factors contribute to obesity like diet, exercise & accessibility to produce. 12% of AA Co residents live in food deserts. Food deserts are areas void of fresh fruit, vegetables, & other healthful whole foods. To combat obesity AACFB worked with partners to identify low income children to receive a bike. This in combination with healthy foods distributed through our Backpack Program & Pantries ensure countywide access to healthy foods. Over 250,000 pounds of healthy foods were distributed in FY18.
A resource for emergency baby items like diapers and formula was lost when Food Link closed in 2017. Newspaper articles instructed people to contact AACFB, and we were inundated with phone calls for supplies that Food Link had once supplied.
AACFB’s Baby Pantry program made sure that A A Co residents are still able to get baby food & supplies they need. AACFB Baby Pantry members receive diapers, wipes, formula, baby food and other items for infants and toddlers. Baby pantries are spread throughout A A Co makes it easier for families to acquire essential items for a healthy, & happy baby.
Governor Hogan signed into law the Farm Food Donation Pilot Program (SB 416) authorizing a State tax credit of up to $5,000 per calendar year to qualified farmers or farm businesses that make eligible food donations & certified organic produce donations to charitable organizations. AACFB was chosen as the acting agency for this program in AA Co, so farmers who donate produce to AACFB will be eligible to receive the tax credit from Maryland. “This innovative program encourages farmers to donate fresh produce and more to non-profit organizations that support those in need,” said Governor Hogan. “This is a way for Maryland farmers to further help their communities and ensure their harvest does not go to waste.” AACFB sees this as a “win-win” for both the AACFB, and for Anne Arundel County farmers.
Sometimes, a pet is the only companion a senior citizen on a fixed income has. Sometimes, a parent loses a job and does not have the money to feed their child’s beloved pet. Where do they turn for help when they can’t afford to buy their pet food or supplies? So many will feel they have to give their pets up—but thanks to the AACFB Pet Pantry Program, low income Anne Arundel County residents can receive free pet food and supplies at one of our pet pantries.
In FY18, AACFB provided almost 17,000 meals to pets in Anne Arundel County—and over 472 bags of kitty litter and other miscellaneous pet supplies.
United Way of Central Maryland came to the AA County Food Bank recently with approximately 50 volunteers for their Stone Soup Event. The volunteers broke into groups at various stations and made over 100 casserole dishes and sandwiches for our on-site feeding programs. Young and old - all came together in such a giving, caring way! Such an amazing job!
The casseroles were picked up by several of our partners.
THANK YOU UNITED WAY OF CENTRAL MARYLAND—and all of the GREAT VOLUNTEERS that came out to help!
Saturday, April 14th, AACFB teamed up with the Chesapeake Bayhawks major league lacrosse team and volunteers from various groups including Realtors from DSAC, Maryland Homebuilder’s Assoc., lacrosse players from several AA Co high schools, Women’s Council of Realtors, & volunteers to help “Teaming Up To End Hunger” fundraising event.
The event included a bicycle giveaway to underprivileged children, & a beautification project planting flowers at the AACFB.
The Bayhawks players did everything from even taking time to teach children how to ride a bicycle. The smiles on the faces of the children receiving bicycles were the highlight of the day!
Thank you so very much to all who came out to help make “Teaming Up To End Hunger” such an awesome event!
April 21st, Susan Thomas, AACFB Executive Director received the Crown Royal “Unsung Hero Award” at the season opening Chesapeake Bayhawks game. The game was held at the US Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis. On hand to watch Susan accept the award were AACFB Board member Pam Harrison, and staff members Jesse Lute and Marta Jones. Crown Royal is a sponsor of the Chesapeake Bayhawks, and likes to acknowledge hometown heroes who make a difference.
It is when we are working together that impacts are truly made. This is merely one example. Meet Joe P. Joe P. had to have a leg amputated, but he was determined to carry on with his life. He did his best after his amputation, however a scooter, which would make his life easier, was too far out of reach. Scooters are very expensive and insurance (even when you have it) often puts up road blocks for items like power scooters. Through the AA County Food Bank partnership with the Maryland Department of General Services, we were able to identify Joe P.'s need and provide a power scooter to Joe P. The scooter had been donated to the AA County Food Bank, and like all of our services, was provided free of charge to Joe P.
AACFB has been working closely with the AA County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) on an Emergency Preparedness plan of action in the event of a catastrophic event such as a hurricane that would require extended relief for our county citizens.
Susan Thomas met with Ann Heiser Buzzelli, the Assistant Program manager, in FY18 to discuss how the AACFB would be able to work with the AA County OEM to provide food and necessities to the county offices that will oversee the distribution of those items, which include everything from diapers to pet supplies. The AACFB will always be ready to help wherever we are needed.
Earlier this year, The Anne Arundel County Food Bank donated a pick up truck to a gentleman in need through the Eastport United Methodist Church -one of our pantry member agencies. This truck needed a lot of work, and it turns out, he was just the man to do that work!
Recently he came into AACFB, and was very proud to show off all of the work he had put into that pickup truck. It most certainly did not look like the same truck towed off of our parking lot!
But he was not there to just show the truck - he was there giving back - picking up food for the Eastport United Methodist Church pantry in the truck he was given! This is truly “paying it forward”.
AACFB has been fortunate to have Keith Colston of the MD Commission on Indian Affairs volunteer at our facility. Thanks to Keith, we have learned much more about our Native American population in MD & in AA Co. AA Co has the 4th highest population of Native Americans in the state of MD, & the MD Commission on Indian Affairs is very active within our county. Recently, the AACFB was represented by Angie Slattery, AACFB Member Relations, & Chairman JJ Fegan at a ceremony at the Baltimore American Indian Center Heritage Museum as Keith Colston presented a citation to the museum for their work in the Native American Community. AACFB donated toys & meal kits to their programs to help those in need.
FY18 saw another banner year with the Kids Helping Kids Harvest for the Hungry Food Drive. The food drive ran from October 1st, 2017 until October 26, 2017, and included 126 public, private and parochial schools in Anne Arundel County, plus the Anne Arundel County Board of Education and the US Naval Academy.
Students collected 144,814 pounds of food, and $95,288, which equates to 762,304 pounds of food for a combined total of 907,116 pounds of food!
This total was 22,686 combined pounds more than the previous year’s food drive.
REALTORS are some of the most giving people there are, & their annual Harvest for the Hungry Food Drive has been supplementing the AACFB since 1988.
In the fall of FY18, REALTORS contributed almost 60,000 pounds of food to AACFB through the Harvest for the Hungry. Individual brokerages competed against each other, all in fun, to see who could donate more, but their generosity does not stop with Harvest for the Hungry. REALTORS routinely drop off food donations throughout the year, not to mention the generous monetary donations we receive as well. AACFB is proud of our partnership with the AA Co Assoc of REALTORS, Master’s Club, Women’s Council of REALTORS, DSAC (Distinguished Sales Achievement Club), and all the wonderful REALTORS that go above and beyond to help AACFB continue our mission.
In FY18, the AACFB received 35,136
pounds of food from miscellaneous drives including but not limited to; Maryland LIVE!, Heritage Harbour, Ginger Cove, AAMC Auxiliary, the Pasadena Senior Center, USCG Station Annapolis, & Mago Vista Civic Assoc. But “in kind” donations, delivered to AACFB in FY18, totaled 90,263 pounds! From food collected by children in their neighborhood, to food donation dropped off by anonymous donors, the AACFB was the fortunate recipient of kind hearts and giving spirits. It is because of people like this that the AACFB is able to help the less fortunate in our county.
AACFB recently lost one of our most ardent supporters when Shirley Lieberman passed away. Shirley spearheaded the annual food drive at the Ginger Cove Assisted Living Facility in Annapolis, where she was a resident. Shirley went above and beyond, and this last year, although in failing health, she had her counterpart, Judy Onorati, keep her up to date on every detail of the food drive. They had a donation box placed in each of the 8 buildings at Ginger Cove, and collected monetary donations as well. Shirley will be missed by many, she was a true powerhouse, tirelessly working and genuinely caring for those less fortunate.
In April, Susan Thomas, AACFB Executive Director, was able to present a plaque to Ginger Cove residents at their monthly residents’ meeting for their outstanding performance on the 2018 food drive. Susan and the Ginger Cove residents paid homage to Shirley and the great work she performed with the annual food drives. Judy Onorati accepted the plaque on behalf of the residents, and Shirley, who had raised a combined total of food and monetary donations equaling 173,000 pounds of food. Thank you to everyone at Ginger Cove in Annapolis for all that you do to help the AACFB help those in need in Anne Arundel County!!
“As one of the coordinators of the Annapolis Middle School Backpack Buddies Program, managed out of
the Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, I want to thank you and the entire Anne Arundel Food Bank Team for the outstanding support you have provided the Annapolis Middle School Backpack Program over the past school year. You and your staff, including those "orange suit men" and the volunteer "sorters", would be amazed at the smiles and comments of appreciation that we get from the 60 plus students who participated in this
- Richard Moore
AMS Backpack Program
“We want to let you know how thankful we are for your support of our pantry, mission, and community. Without your support there is no way we would be able to serve the needs of our community in the way that is needed.
Because of your food, we have seen single moms be able to pay for housing during their transition because we supplied food, and baby needs.
We have seen tent city individuals volunteer to help at our mission, serving others, because we had the opportunity to serve them through food, blankets, clothing, and resources.”
- Pastor La Nae Kirwan
Life of Victory
“You guys have been able to support our backpack program for 2 weeks of the month. Before we had your support, we were scraping together the bare minimum to send home with our students.
Phoenix is a school that supports students from all over Anne Arundel County. Most of the churches and community organizations in the area already had programs they were supporting so we have been on our own until now. We support
35 children with food for the weekends.”
- Lindsay Feroli, LCSW-C
School Social Worker
The Phoenix Academy
“ ...Lastly, to all the employees that work for the Food Bank, every pick up day every person are always so helpful and kind making sure the pick up process is effortless.”
- I5 City
“All Hallows is a small parish committed to helping low income families. Because of our size and limited funds, we would not be able to run our monthly food pantry without the support of the Anne Arundel County Food Bank”.
- Linda Johnson
and Jan Power
All Hallows Food Pantry
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