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Watch Dog says Baltimore County's "Produce for the People" program was a waste of money

Baltimore Co. Ag. Center Greenhouse
Posted at 1:17 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 13:44:08-05

TOWSON, Md. — Baltimore County's Inspector General (IG) says a 2017 government program called "Produce for the People" has amounted to over $1 million in wasteful spending.

The plan was to use 50 acres at the Baltimore County Ag Center for growing and supplying produce to local food banks and homeless shelters.

This required the construction of a large greenhouse along with several other equipment purchases.

During an October 2017 groundbreaking ceremony, the county said the greenhouse cost was $225,000.

But the IG says that's false, and the actual price tag was over $600,000.

At the time the county claimed within three years, it would be able to donate up to 600,000 pounds of produce per year.

The IG discovered it was 2018 when the county last donated food from the project.

Overall only 47,190 pounds of produce was ever donated, none having been grown in the greenhouse.

According to the IG, that equals $21.69 the county paid per pound.

The report compares that to the $8.8 million the county has spent distributing ten million meals during the COVID-19 pandemic, which averages out to 88 cents per pound.

Here's a list of equipment the county purchased as part of the "Produce for the People" program.

Equipment list

Aside from the John Deere 4066R compact utility tractor and the 2017 Ford F550 truck, the IG says all of it has gone to waste.

The IG cites an interview with the current Farm Manager, who revealed most of the greenhouse equipment wasn't even set up as of July 2020, with the majority of supplies still sitting in its original packaging.

Read the full report below.