Thirty-four years ago, the Anne Arundel County Food Bank (AACFB) was established to purchase and distribute food to not-for-profit human services organizations in Anne Arundel County. Today, we continue that mission, while seeking additional ways that we can serve those in need, as this report will demonstrate.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamics, created new challenges, and added additional avenues of distribution for the many Anne Arundel County residents who found themselves in need during this pandemic.
During FY20, COVID-19 caused some pantries and programs to close their doors as they were manned by seniors who were vulnerable to this virus. Organizations such as Feed Anne Arundel and Light of the World began pop up pantries with our help, reaching those in need. Pantries and programs began “drive-in” pantries, to limit physical contact during COVID-19. Pantries saw a 242% increase in the number of people seeking assistance, and 53% of those had never had to go to a pantry before.
In FY20, the AACFB supplied food and basic necessities to 44 pantries, 6 soup kitchens, 6 shelters, 41 schools with backpack programs, 8 baby pantries, 5 senior pantries, 2 pet pantries, 1 clothing pantries, and 1 furniture program throughout Anne Arundel County. We also support seasonal programs such as winter relief, free community events and dinners for those in need, free summer camps and summer programs to underprivileged children as well as during COVID-19, assisted with County and community groups to provide food at pop-up pantries throughout the county. In FY20 the AACFB distributed almost $5 million dollars’ worth of food and basic necessities which includes over 2.6 million pounds to our member agencies (pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, etc.).
The AACFB uses a core set of programs to carry out our mission. These programs may vary based on the needs of those we serve. In FY20 our services included:
The AACFB has worked to expand on our Healthy Living Initiative. Distributing over 630,000 pounds of produce and assisting over 14,000 students with healthy foods through the Backpack Buddies Program in FY20, the AACFB worked with Bike AAA to distribute bicycles and helmets to encourage exercise among our youth. Bike AAA teaches bike safety to the bike recipients and distributes the bikes for AACFB.
The AACFB also focused on increasing healthy food distribution and combating food deserts in Anne Arundel County, especially during COVID-19 when many were in need. For example, AACFB worked with the USDA Farmers to Families program to receive and distribute boxes of fresh produce. In FY20, AACFB distributed over 500 boxes of fresh produce weekly to the AA County Dept. of Aging’s Fresh Food Friday pop-ups for seniors and the disabled.
COVID-19 changed our dynamic in FY20, but AACFB rose to the occasion and was able to meet the need in our county. We have had a very successful year and look forward to a new year helping fight hunger and poverty in AA County.