Times are tough and grocery bills could be busting monthly budgets. Montgomery County, Maryland, is creating a new office that will aim to make sure tough times don’t affect food access for children.
“What we know for certain is that — it’s unacceptable — that 160,000 children in the state of Maryland, 40,000 of them right here in Montgomery County, are not sure where their next meal is going to come from,” said Montgomery County Council President Gabe Albornoz during a news conference on Thursday.
In an attempt to end food insecurity for county youth, the Montgomery County council is creating the Office of Food Systems Resilience. The office will serve as a liaison to county government and help bolster nonprofits in the area, and it will be under the county executive.
“According to the Capital Area Food Banks 2022 Hunger report, 46% of households in Montgomery County that have children experienced food insecurity at some point last year,” said Allison Schnitzer with the Montgomery County Food Council.
“Our goal within the county is to bring the resources of county government to support the nonprofits. We cannot as government solve this alone. Frankly, we are newer in this space than the nonprofits are, and they are doing the critical work already,” said Earl Stoddard, the County’s assistant chief administration officer.
Schnitzel said with rising prices at the grocery store due to record high inflation and the ending of many pandemic era safety nets like federally funded school meals as well as SNAP emergency allotments, there is a “hunger cliff looming.”
“We know that more Montgomery County residents and more children will be facing food insecurity,” she said.
Vanessa Pierre is a board member for the Montgomery County Food Council. She said she teeters on food insecurity.
“We have it today, but will we have it tomorrow? For me, it looks like me skipping a meal to feed them, or skipping out on healthier items because chips and snacks last little longer,” said Pierre.
The Office of Food Systems Resilience, beyond helping provide food to county residents, will look to provide healthier options, and look to solve the underlying causes of food insecurity. They will also advise the county executive and council on food related policies.
The bill to create the new office will have its final reading on July 12. Just over $1 million has been allocated for the office in this years budget.