On this episode of The Next Word host Christine Warnke talks to Netta Squires, Senior Law and Policy Analyst and Regional Emergency Preparedness Specialist for the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security and Maggie Davis, Senior Law and Policy Analyst for the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security. During the program they share all about the Food Security Task Force in Montgomery County.
The Food Security Task Force created a response strategy to get more food in the system early on during the Covid-19 Pandemic and discovered how to accomplish it more efficiently. They also learned that better connection with non English speaking community members came from their Food Access Call Center, 311. Organizations have increased output and adjusted operations as food needs have grown. They have been working with providers to address short comings in the overall food landscape. These providers started experiencing severe supply chain disruptions. To solve this challenge they are working with partners in different supply chains to access shelf stable food items.The Food Security Task Force established a Covid-19 Pandemic Food Security Response Strategy that found solutions on how to increase food security access for the next 6 months. The first solution is to enhance the existing food supply chain by infusing more food into the system through Montgomery County Food Banks. They have purchasing power that’s more cost effective and makes it easier to enable the food assistant providers to stock up to mitigate against supply chain disruptions. They have implemented the Delta Strategy which buys up the difference in food needs.
The plan going forward is to enhance farms providing fresh food to Montgomery County Food Banks were the local farmers will have their basic cost covered. The SNAP program has added more benefits, so you can learn if you qualify, and how to sign up. Contact the Food Access Call Center, 311 to find specific food resources appropriate for your needs. Also, the Montgomery County Food Council who creates food policy has created a Food Resource Map to search available services by address. Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) are concerned about food access for youth. That’s why most weekdays their are 50 locations that kids 18 & under can pick up meals. In certain neighborhoods their are bus routes that have produce for families as well. MCPS is working to continue food operations over the summer.