Expanding Our Space Expands Our Ability to Do More
In the near future, the hunger landscape in Maryland is going to feel the impact of two of the most powerful tools we’ve ever had, working together for our neighbors in need: MFB 3.0 and a newly expanded headquarters in Baltimore. In fact, our refreshed warehouse, training facility, and modernized office space are the literal (and figurative) embodiment of our strategic plan.
In addition to expanding our state-of-the-art training kitchen, FoodWorks students will have new classroom and meeting spaces, fostering not only collaboration amongst the program’s staff and students, but other food bank employees since the expanded space is adjacent to all-new offices. New conference rooms and meeting spaces have also been added throughout the building, which now includes a refreshed boardroom and breakroom as well.
But realizing this vision has truly required a team effort. It took buy-in and patience from nearly everyone at the food bank, from our employees and community partners to our senior leadership, all of whom balanced their immediate day-to-day work while keeping an eye on the future.
When We Invest in Ourselves, Marylanders Reap the Rewards
The Workforce Development, Speakers Bureau, and Mobile Market initiatives you’ve been reading about have at least two things in common: they are pilot programs designed to do more by providing better outcomes for our neighbors, and they require more—more time, more energy, and more staff.
“Our ability to reach further into local communities, to bring more nutritious food, new programs, and really start the work to end hunger in our state is only limited by the resources we have. That’s why this investment in our staff and our assets is so crucial to Maryland’s future,” said Meg Kimmel, MFB Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer.
The need for food assistance in Maryland ballooned during the pandemic and forecasts indicate that need will remain high for the next several years. Across our three facilities, we’ve increased in size from 110 employees in 2018 to more than 160 in 2023, requiring the addition of new communal spaces that allow for more collaborative possibilities between MFB’s various departments.
“From a strategic perspective, this combination of physical expansion, increased staff, and additional resources creates an atmosphere that positions us well for ongoing improvements in our processes and services, which will ultimately lead to better results for our neighbors,” said John Wall, MFB’s Director of Continuous Improvement.
A Streamlined Space Means Speedier Hunger Relief
In addition to the expanded offices, some key physical and technological changes to our warehouse and transportation fleet mean we can get the right food to the right places, and ultimately the right people, more quickly than ever.
We’ve added enough racking and shelving to store an additional 320+ pallets, which can hold the equivalent of nearly 1.2 million meals; we’ve purchased two smaller trucks that allow non CDL-licensed drivers to help get food to our partners faster; we’ve completed the installation of a barcode and scanner system that improves order fulfilment speed and accuracy; and we’ve initiated a daily cycle count program to better manage inventory.
“All of these improvements—from expanding our building and adding staff, to launching new pilots and upgrading technology—are all innovative, planned, and realized with one thought in mind ‘How will this action help shorten pathways out of hunger for our neighbors?’” said Meg.
Supporting a Shared Vision
But evolution could not possibly have happened without the support of government, corporate, and private sectors. We’re grateful to those who share our vision for a hunger-free Maryland, including Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones, who spearheaded efforts to procure $3.5 million in funding back in 2015.
And once word of our strategic expansion plans got out, numerous supporters reached out, wanting to help realize better outcomes for our neighbors and brighten the future of all Marylanders, including the Middendorf Foundation.
Thanks to the generosity of the Middendorf Foundation, FoodWorks students will soon be able to prep meals using RobotCoupe Food Processors; cook on Garland Stoves; temper and store food in Thermo-Kool Blast Chillers and Delfield Refrigerators and Freezers; and explore various cooking techniques using ConvoTherm Combi Ovens, Frymaster Deep Fryers, and Alto-Shaam Smokers.
This capacity-increasing expansion is one of our most exciting projects to date. It has been a labor of love—love for our neighbors in need—and it is the tangible proof of our commitment to the people of Maryland. We thank you for helping us succeed.
“The Middendorf Foundation seeks to ensure that individuals and communities are provided a safety net of support as they bring their lives to an equilibrium that they can maintain independently. It is for this reason, the trustees unanimously supported the Maryland Food Bank’s expansion efforts which ensures FoodWorks students can train on the same commercial kitchen equipment they will use in their future careers.”
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