Hunger con­fer­ence stresses need to pro­vide for many

Meals of Hope food truck, SNAP time lim­its ma­jor top­ics at Hunger Con­fer­ence & Re­source Day

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com

The ninth an­nual South­ern Mary­land Hunger and Re­source Con­fer­ence was a day full of in­for­ma­tion and fel­low­ship for food and ser­vice providers, non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions, government agen­cies, and vol­un­teers from around the South­ern Mary­land re­gion.

The Hunger & Re­source Con­fer­ence was hosted by South­ern Mar yland Food Bank and

Outreach Ser­vices and lo­cated at the Loy­ola Re­treat House on April 19. This year’s event in­cluded a pre­sen­ta­tion from the Mary­land Hunger So­lu­tions about the im­pact of SNAP ben­e­fits for sin­gle adults and a net­work­ing ses­sion spon­sored by the South­ern Mary­land Food Coun­cil.

Theresa Mur­phy, outreach co­or­di­na­tor at South­ern Mary­land Food Bank, de­scribed the con­fer­ence as en­light­en­ing, sup­port­ive and com­mu­nity oriented.

“In South­ern Mary­land there are so many or­ga­ni­za­tions that can be on op­po­site ends of each county and not be aware the oth­ers ex­ist or what they are do­ing [their mis­sion or pur­pose]. To­day they see that they are not alone in this walk,” Mur­phy said.

Brenda DiCarlo, di­rec­tor of the South­ern Mary­land Food Bank, said the con­fer­ence was for ev­ery­one to con­nect and find part­ners. It even al­lowed DiCarlo to give at least 20 or­ga­ni­za­tions and agen­cies up­dates about the new Meals of Hope mo­bile food truck.

“We high­lighted the Food Bank’s Snack Sak Pro­gram, se­nior meals pro­gram, Giv­ing Hope Food Pantry, and the com­mu­nity learn­ing gar­den which is huge this sea­son,” DiCarlo said. “We need to get the word out that we have all these pro­grams and we need help be­cause cook­ing and co­or­di­nat­ing Meals of Hope has be­come dif­fi­cult.”

DiCarlo said since the cre­ation of the food truck on Oct. 5, 2016, it feeds ap­prox­i­mately 150 peo­ple two nights a week in Charles County and she hopes to soon be able to ex­pand it to St. Mary’s County. How­ever, they are cur­rently lack­ing the re­sources to sus­tain the mo­bile meals pro­gram in Charles County.

Brenda Can­ter from St. Ig­natius Church in Chapel Point said the Meals of Hope food truck is in des­per­ate need of cooks.

“[DiCarlo] and her small staff of three are com­ing to our church to cook these meals, in ad­di­tion to the ladies at St. Ig­natius — eight women over the age of 70 years old — who come in once a month to cook,” Can­ter said. “If we had more spon­sors and cooks all [DiCarlo] would need to do is stop by to pick up the meals and go to the host site and serve it. We need it struc­tured here in Charles County first be­fore they can ex­pand it to St. Mary’s County.”

Jes­sica Con­jour, project leader of Univer­sity of Mary­land Ex­ten­sion Food Sup­ple­ment Nu­tri­tion Ed­u­ca­tion (FSNE) and Fam­ily Con­sumer Sciences (FCS), at­tended the hunger con­fer­ence to help con­nect lo­cal food pantries with healthy food re­sources.

“Food pantries are a good point for us to reach our tar­get au­di­ence which are those are uti­liz­ing food stamps or SNAP [Sup­ple­men­tal Nu­tri­tion As­sis­tance Pro­gram] — a do­mes­tic hunger safety net which pro­vided nu­tri­tion as­sis­tance to mil­lions of el­i­gi­ble, low-in­come in­di­vid­u­als and families,” Con­jour said. “SNAP is the best kept se­cret in South­ern Mary­land so we want to con­nect to peo­ple and see what we can pro­vide for them.”

Michael J. Wilson, di­rec­tor of Mary­land Hunger So­lu­tions, pre­sented ad­di­tional SNAP in­for­ma­tion, specif­i­cally about the ABAWD or “Able-bod­ied Adults With­out De­pen­dents” time lim­its. He said as of Jan. 1, 2016, new SNAP time lim­its have gone into ef­fect in Mary­land.

Ac­cord­ing to Mary­land Hunger So­lu­tions, the new time lim­its re­strict in­di­vid­u­als, who are 18 to 49 years old, to three months of SNAP ben­e­fits in a 36-month time pe­riod if they are not ex­empt or par­tic­i­pat­ing in a qual­i­fied work, train­ing, ed­u­ca­tion or vol­un­teer ac­tiv­ity for 20 hours a week, ac­cord­ing to fed­eral law.

“In our ex­pe­ri­ence, many ABAWD are work­ing but may not be get­ting enough hours or in­come which is why they are on food stamps,” Wilson said. “But there are vol­un­teer and outreach or­ga­ni­za­tions, from pantries to churches, avail­able so that they don’t lose those ben­e­fits. Many of these outreach or­ga­ni­za­tions can help peo­ple un­der­stand the ABAWD reg­u­la­tions. If they are in­formed then they can help spread the word.”

Wilson said there are more than 700,000 peo­ple in the State of Mary­land who use the food stamp pro­gram — families with chil­dren, the el­derly, dis­abled and peo­ple with short-term un­em­ploy­ment.

“Mary­land is the wealth­i­est state in the coun­try but still we have a lot of poverty,” Wilson said.

Those who at­tended the con­fer­ence said the event was a great col­lab­o­ra­tion of net­works.

Bon­nie Blanken­ship, food pantry di­rec­tor at the non­profit The Mis­sion lo­cated in Great Mills, and vol­un­teer Kathy Jo Boggs, said the Mary­land Hunger So­lu­tions pre­sen­ta­tion about ABAWD Time Lim­its had a huge im­pact on them.

“The Mary­land Hunger So­lu­tions was huge for me be­cause we have a lot of clients in St. Mary’s County who are home­less,” Blanken­ship said. “To find out that a lot of these peo­ple who come to eat at The Mis­sion ev­ery­day will lose some of their ben­e­fits, but all they need are vol­un­teer hours is a re­ally big deal. A lot of our clients fit right into that cat­e­gory.”

Mar­garet Payne, com­mu­nity ser­vices man­ager at Life­Styles Inc. said she was able to con­nect with or­ga­ni­za­tions who have po­ten­tial clients in need of trans­porta­tion.

“[Life­Styles] does give out VanGo passes but a lot of times VanGo can’t go out of the county,” Payne said. “We take peo­ple to doc­tor appointments in Clin­ton and Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and gro­cery shop­ping, dur­ing var­i­ous sched­ul­ing hours. We are look­ing for more clients and we hope to get two more 15-pas­sen­ger buses to con­tinue trans­port­ing peo­ple.”

Jakia Ball, Sa­mar­i­tan Project co­or­di­na­tor at Life­Styles Inc., said the con­fer­ence was very in­for­ma­tive and she en­joyed hear­ing about the Meals of Hope food truck, which is a much needed pro­gram in the com­mu­nity.

“At the con­fer­ence we got to con­nect and in­ter­act with oth­ers who are of the same mind­set,” Ball said. “We’re all about help­ing the com­mu­nity, no judg­ment, and al­low­ing peo­ple to be able to re­ceive the food avail­able at lo­cal pantries.”

DiCarlo said the con­fer­ence al­lowed these ser­vice providers to share in­for­ma­tion that many were un­aware of.

“But the im­pact of that in­for­ma­tion is that we are now armed with it so we can now make ad­just­ments to help sup­port that por­tion of the com­mu­nity,” DiCarlo said.

STAFF PHOTO BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

Theresa Mur­phy, outreach co­or­di­na­tor at South­ern Mary­land Food Bank, and Brenda DiCarlo, di­rec­tor of the South­ern Mary­land Food Bank, talk at the ninth an­nual South­ern Mary­land Hunger and Re­source Con­fer­ence in New­burg on April 19.

Michael J. Wilson, di­rec­tor of Mary­land Hunger So­lu­tions, and Ash­ley Wor­thing­ton, se­nior pro­gram as­so­ci­ate at Mary­land Hunger So­lu­tions, handed out in­for­ma­tion about the ABAWD, or “Able-bod­ied Adults With­out De­pen­dents,” time lim­its, at the ninth an­nual South­ern Mary­land Hunger & Re­source Con­fer­ence.

STAFF PHOTOS BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

More than 20 food and ser­vice providers, non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions, government agen­cies, and vol­un­teers from around the South­ern Mary­land re­gion at­tended the ninth an­nual South­ern Mary­land Hunger and Re­source Con­fer­ence on April 19.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.