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Shutdown could strain Maryland Food Bank

Planning underway for increased demand from federal workers
Posted at 5:54 PM, Jan 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-09 18:22:59-05

HALETHORPE, Md — Feeding the hungry is no small task here in Maryland.

You need only look at the Maryland Food Bank warehouse in Halethorpe.

"In the normal course of operation, there's 665,000 food insecure Marylanders. That's one out of every nine Marylanders that aren't sure where the next nutritious meal is going to come from,” said Maryland Food Bank President/CEO Carmen Del Guercio, “To try to help combat that, we deploy a number of programs that allow us to distribute over 100,000 meals a day."

Within the last 24 hours, the United States Department of Agriculture announced there's money to fund snap benefits through February and reduced or free school lunches through march, but after that, there are no guarantees.

"That's a particular strain on the organization,” said Del Guercio, “We certainly haven't budgeted for this to occur, and it means a heightened amount of food we're going to have to try to put out and so we're trying to figure out, 'How do you source that in a very, cost-effective way? How do we distribute that in a cost-effective way?'"

In the short term, the Food Bank also must prepare for federal workers seeking assistance feeding their families.

"We talk about trade offs all the time,” said Del Guercio, “People have limited resources. They're constantly making tradeoff decisions---medicine, mortgage, transportation versus food, and the more food that we can distribute, relieve them of that burden, allows them to allocate more dollars to these other needs."

But the task of feeding the state's hungry is already daunting, and there's no guarantee the food bank can handle the added load.

"The magnitude of the problem is growing exponentially,” said Del Guercio, “and the reality is we do not have the fiscal resources---dollar-wise, access to food, however you want to describe it, to be able to fill that entire gap."