Causing Change at the 2018 Hunger Action Symposium | Maryland Food Bank
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Causing Change at the 2018 Hunger Action Symposium

October 15, 2018

On September 21, 2018, the brightest minds in Maryland’s food assistance field gathered for a day-long discussion about how we can make a bigger impact on hunger statewide.

National advocates, local legislators, MFB partners, and community leaders came together at the BWI Marriott to explore new and innovative ways to be the catalysts to change the state of hunger in Maryland.

The day featured guest speakers, breakout sessions, and interactive food demonstrations.

“It is wonderful to receive so much information on how we can address the needs of our community going forward. It is also great to learn about advocacy and how to achieve long term change.” -Symposium attendee

Senator Chris Van Hollen stands at podium
Senator Chris Van Hollen thanks attendees for caring for food-insecure Marylanders.

Following opening remarks by Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Food Bank President & CEO Carmen Del Guercio kicked off the day by sharing the organization’s vision of MFB 2.0. This ambitious five-year strategic plan will not only ensure we maintain our excellence as the leading food safety net provider, but steer us on a course of growth, by:

  • Adapting food sourcing efforts to keep pace with the evolving industry
  • Focusing more heavily on nutrition, both in terms of the food we distribute and educating agencies and clients on how to prepare healthier meals
  • Expanding our network capacity to help our partners do more, for more of their hungry neighbors
  • Expanding into new partnerships to address the root causes of hunger

Del Guercio also talked about how data will play a bigger role in guiding our efforts moving forward, before introducing the first featured speaker, Sarah Hemminger.

Maryland Food Bank's President & CEO speaking to an audience
Carmen Del Guercio focuses on change during the breakfast session.

Hemminger, the co-founder and CEO of Thread, inspired the crowd by calling for unity among races, classes, and socio-economic statuses to initiate change now, leveling the playing field so that future generations can thrive.

Thread’s philosophy centers on the belief that “empathetic and enduring relationships are our society’s most essential form of wealth” and “we can overcome the poverty of isolation and, in its place, establish a wealth of human connection permanently linked by unconditional love and support.”

Symposium Morning Breakout Sessions

Panel members at the Hunger Action Symposium
Symposium attendees discussing anti-hunger tactics.

Following the speakers, participants spread out to attend one of three offered workshops:

Each hour-long session allowed attendees to explore one particular aspect of the food safety network, by interacting with industry experts, participating in collaborative discussions, and taking home actionable resources. (You can click on any of the links to view the presentation decks.)

“My favorite part about the symposium was Meeting You Where You Are: A Preview of Our Future Network.” -Symposium attendee

Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler stands at podium.
Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler addresses attendees during lunch.

Following the morning sessions, attendees reconvened for lunch, which featured the final speaker of the day, Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler, who discussed the importance of different entities within our communities – government, non-profits and the private sector – coming together to end hunger here in Maryland

Afternoon Symposium Breakout Sessions

A robust series of afternoon sessions gave attendees two additional opportunities to take a deeper dive into hunger topics including:

(You can click on any of the links to view the presentation decks.)

FoodWorks student serves food to a woman.
An attendee samples spanakopita, prepared by FoodWorks students.

Throughout the day, MFB’s Executive Chef Manny Robinson, his staff, and FoodWorks students offered “Adaptable Cooking Strategies,” mini-sessions featuring interactive food demos with tips and tricks for engaging clients to want to improve their eating habits.

“I had the opportunity to speak with Maryland Food Works young lady who was wonderful and full of spirit.” -Symposium attendee

While we think this year’s Symposium was the best one yet, we’re already looking ahead to 2020. Based on the feedback provided on the Symposium Evaluation forms, we’re working hard to provide even more value to our partners — enabling us to build a stronger hunger-fighting community.

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