Salvation Army enlisted to fight hunger in Maryland
By: David Ibata
For some Maryland households in dire straits in these times of COVID-19 and widespread joblessness, a box of life-giving food will be only a phone call away, thanks to a partnership involving the state of Maryland, United Way and The Salvation Army.
The Maryland Department of Human Services and Emergency Management Agency sought a partner positioned to serve people throughout the state. “Because we have corps all over the state, The Salvation Army is the perfect partner to provide food boxes,” said Eric Mueck, director of resource development for the Maryland and West Virginia Division.
The state also recognized The Salvation Army’s ability to respond in a variety of ways, depending on a client’s needs, said Rebecca Chestnutt, divisional disaster director.
The feeding program launched mid-May and is expected to continue through October, funded by a $1 million grant from the state under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The program provides supplemental food assistance to persons with disabilities, who do not qualify for existing state programs, or who have extenuating circumstances that result in food needs exceeding their current assistance.
The United Way manages the state’s 2-1-1 telephone call-in system for people seeking information. During Covid-19, this service has been expanded to include emergency assistance. Callers with food needs are assisted through state programs as well as existing resources, such as food banks. Disabled persons unable to qualify for or to access standard assistance are being referred to The Salvation Army.
The Army, in turn, routes requests to the local corps. Food will be on its way within 48 hours of the call for help. Divisional headquarters has established additional resources to support corps in meeting these additional feeding requests.
According to its Service Delivery Plan with the state, The Salvation Army may obtain food from a variety of places: Army food banks, its DMG Foods grocery store in Baltimore, outside vendors and the Maryland Food Bank, to name a few sources. When processing a request, the Army will consider such factors as food allergies in a household or a desire for Kosher or Halal products.
“Food assistance is met as best meets the needs of the client and the capacity of the local corps,” Chestnutt said. “This includes a wide range of options, including delivering food pantry items, a food box, restaurant meal delivery, TSA-prepared meals, or coordination with a local organization to meet meal requirements.”
Staff members and volunteers of The Salvation Army or partner agencies will deliver the food, observing safe health practices for the novel coronavirus crisis.
The Salvation Amy is honored to take on the responsibility, said Amy Middleton, regional resource development director for Central Maryland.
“We’re very proud,” Middleton said. “It’s nice to have our capacity and our excellence in response recognized at this level, by the state.”