Meet the MFB Family: Darlene Johnson | Maryland Food Bank
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Meet the MFB Family: Darlene Johnson

“I love the people here. Everyone knows me from the front door to the back door because we’re all about the same mission. The mission keeps us focused on what’s important — feeding hungry people in our communities.”


Marketplace Maven, The Maryland Food Bank

Darlene Johnson is much more than MFB’s customer service representative — she’s the ever-smiling, always cheerful face of the food bank to representatives of its many community partners who visit the central warehouse’s Marketplace to pick up food for their pantries.

And it’s not just the partners she inspires — following Darlene around the warehouse is to see her uplift everyone she passes, with a quick joke, a kind word, and her infectious laugh.

“When our partners come through that door, I give them the biggest smile. Before COVID I would give them the biggest hug. ‘Hey, you came back to see me again. What’s going on?’” she said.

Darlene Johnson standing by Marketplace shelves

To Darlene, our partners are beloved extensions of the food bank.

“I call them our extended arms because they’re reaching spots and locations where we cannot. They’re part of us. That’s why we call them partners because we have to do this together.”

Her job is far more than just offering responsive service to partners picking up their food orders — it’s about building friendships.

Marketplace food shelves with a SWAP poster

“I believe in creating relationships with our partners,” she said. “I always make sure that we’re kind and respectful. If you learn a little bit about a person, that means a whole lot.”

“And even if they’re feeling bad, at least they’ll say, ‘Darlene said a kind word and gave me a smile, so the next time I go to distribute the food at the pantry then I can pass on that smile.’”

Darlene’s philosophy of life is also her philosophy of work.

“I just want to spread some love and try to make sure that everyone is fed — fed with knowledge, with food, with caring, with love. Then I can sleep well at night.”

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