Montgomery County program will bring local produce to food banks

A new Montgomery County, Maryland, program is teaming government agencies with a nonprofit anti-hunger group to bring local farm food to the county’s food banks.

The Farm to Food Bank program is spending about $200,000 on 100,000 pounds of local produce to be distributed by the Manna Food Center to food-assistance providers and to its own clients, bringing fresh fruit and vegetables to 20,000 people in the first phase, which runs through November, the Montgomery County Food Council said in a statement Tuesday.

“Since March, food insecurity in Montgomery County has increased by 50%, with over 100,000 residents receiving food assistance,” the statement said. “In June, 86% of food assistance providers shared that they did not have sufficient supplies of fresh produce to distribute to clients.”

“Everyone deserves access to fresh fruits and vegetables, yet that’s not the reality for many of our neighbors,” Jackie DeCarlo, CEO of the Manna Food Center, said in the statement. “Investing in our local farmers to help fill the fresh produce gap is an important step toward a more just, secure and sustainable local food system, and we’re proud to play our role in this partnership.”

The second phase of the program, which starts in fall, will offer grants to local farmers to build more capacity in exchange for a commitment to provide food for the program next year.

The program is a partnership among the Montgomery County Food Security Task Force, the Department of Health and Human Services, Manna Food Center, the Montgomery County Food Council and the Montgomery County Office of Agriculture.

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