Providing a Holiday Meal to Thousands
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Providing a Holiday Meal to Thousands of Maryland Families

November 20, 2015

Earlier this month, the Maryland Food Bank hosted Pack to Give Back, an annual campaign that mobilizes the local business community to provide holiday meals to families who might otherwise go without. This year, with the help of dozens of organizations like Xerox, the Grainger Foundation, the Baltimore Orioles, and CSX, the Maryland Food Bank is providing holiday meals to 80,000 food-insecure Marylanders. This week, we began distributing these meals — and our mission came to life in the faces and voices of the individuals receiving them.

For many Americans, the holidays provide an opportunity to gather with family and friends around a holiday meal. But for 1 in 8 Marylanders, this time of year can be a discouraging reminder of how hunger impacts their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

The Maryland Food Bank is so grateful for the year-long donations that enable us to provide meals to Marylanders every day — and during the holidays our annual Pack to Give Back event enables us to provide not just a meal, but a turkey feast to families that struggle with hunger on a regular basis.

“The need is great and it’s seems to be getting greater,” said Pastor Billy Humphreys, who founded the Baltimore Dream Center about 15 years ago in conjunction with the Pathway Church of God. “To go to a grocery store to buy a Thanksgiving meal of this size is 40 or 50 dollars, and so this is a huge blessing to those families who are struggling at the end of the month and want to be able to provide a Thanksgiving meal.”

For several years now, Pastor Humphreys has partnered with the Maryland Food Bank to distribute holiday boxes, and this year the church is providing a thousand families in the community with a turkey feast — the most they’ve ever done.

“We are really thankful that they’re helping us. If it wasn’t for this Thanksgiving basket, we wouldn’t know where to go for Thanksgiving,” said Terri, a recipient and long-time volunteer at the church. “I have my three kids, and my grandkids, and then the lady down the street here—she’s really homeless. Her mother passed away so I invited her to come over for dinner.”

Sharon, a single mother with a 10-year-old son who has autism, explained the struggles of stretching her budget to feed her family — particularly when it comes to a Thanksgiving meal.

“ You can’t. That’s why there are churches; that’s why there’s the food bank,” she said. “My son, he loves to cook, so he’s going to help cook the turkey. Corn is his favorite vegetable, so he wants to make corn for us.”

In addition to the turkeys and corn, the holiday boxes packed at the food bank are filled with all the ingredients needed for a holiday feast: stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, green beans, and mashed potatoes, to name a few.

After years of getting to know the people we serve, the food bank recognizes that these holiday boxes provide more than simple nourishment; they give families a reason to gather and celebrate.

“This is going to get the family together,” said Marcelino, who planned to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for his mother this year. “When my father was alive, we used to get the whole family together. I’m hoping that this will get everyone back together.”

For the food bank, the work we do this time of year is especially meaningful, knowing that we are providing thousands of Marylanders a meal to gather around and a sense of normalcy despite the daily struggle of food insecurity.

But hunger is a year-round issue, and we are working every day of the year to meet the needs of individuals and families who don’t have enough to eat.

As you sit down to enjoy a holiday meal with your family, we ask that you take a moment to remember those struggling with hunger in your community and consider contributing your most generous gift to help us continue this vitally important work.

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