How donated refrigerated trucks could help Maryland community

Two big refrigerated trucks are now parked at the Christian Life Center in Riverdale, Maryland. (Courtesy Kaiser Permanente)

Though people and businesses have been helping out families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, food donations aren’t always well-timed. But in Riverdale, Maryland, perishable items don’t have to go bad so quickly thanks to refrigerated trailers donated by Kaiser Permanente.

“If there’s no storage, the milk could turn sour or the meat could spoil,” said George Leventhal, director of Community Health at Kaiser Permanente for the mid-Atlantic region.

“Let’s say a grocery store arrives with many pallets of milk, but they arrive later in the afternoon than scheduled. We can now store the milk for a future day’s food delivery rather than having to give it away that day to families who may or may not be lined up at precisely the time the delivery arrives,” Leventhal said.

Two refrigerated food trailers donated by Kaiser Permanente now parked at the Christian Life Center in Riverdale were given to the nonprofit Sowing Empowerment & Economic Development Inc. (SEED), which provides food and other resources to low- and moderate-income families.

Local artists were commissioned to paint the trucks. (Courtesy Kaiser Permanente)

A large portion of Riverdale’s population is made up of immigrants and refugees. Many have lost jobs in the hospitality industry, such as in restaurants and hotels, during the pandemic.

“Almost every day, somewhere in Riverdale, there are families lined up to make sure that their pantries have something in them so that parents and children don’t go hungry,” Leventhal said.

A collaborative effort underway to feed members of the community, led by Prince George’s County Councilmember Dannielle Glaros, has been dubbed the Greater Riverdale Cares initiative.

“It’s just been a really inspiring thing to see, to see the religious community, the nonprofit community, local government, the private sector and, in our case, a major health care system — which is committed to the health and wellness of the communities we serve — everybody working together to make this happen, multiple food distributions a week,” Leventhal said.

“You have to give great credit to the community of Riverdale. This is a generous, and diverse, and welcoming and inviting community that wants to meet the needs of everybody who lives there, regardless of their backgrounds or their economic status,” he said.

Glaros sends email newsletter updates a couple times a month on weekly food distribution and other community opportunities.

SEED distributes food to hundreds of families at the East Pines Community Center, at 5819 Eastpine Drive in Riverdale, every Wednesday starting at noon.

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