On a scorching afternoon with temperatures above 90 degrees, though it felt much hotter, volunteers were hard at work in a parking lot at the Shops at Iverson handing out meals, produce and even water to those in need in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
One by one, cars would pull up and windows would roll down for curbside delivery of free food items made possible by the county’s Stand Up and Deliver Program.
“We realize that food insecurity is an issue that predated COVID-19 and the pandemic, and so we’re going to make sure that we are able to provide this as long as possible,” said Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.
She said the program began a year ago, when amid the pandemic, it became evident there was a need for extra help.
“COVID-19, like so many other issues, really did unearth many of the structural kind of inequities that we had in the county, and lack of access to healthy food is just one of them,” Alsobrooks said.
Several organizations and businesses came together to make the program a reality. In addition to helping those in need, it also helps struggling businesses in the county because money for the program is used to purchase the food for distribution.
“Stand Up and Deliver came at a great time for us. We were able to bring back a lot of our employees doing hundreds of meals and also being able to give back to the community at the same time,” said Antionette Carterk, of Topolino Restaurant, in Temple Hills.
A similar story played out for MK Catering of Hyattsville, which helped provide meals.
“We were able to bring back our chefs and some of our employees to service this great need in the community,” manager Brian Werth said.
Produce was also purchased from a Lanham produce supplier to be handed out by the boxful.
“Being a part of the supply chain and just being a part of this organization has been a blessing to our business, our families and the entire community,” said Kosta Dionisopoulos, owner of Delta Produce.
Alsobrooks said the program managing to remain in service throughout the pandemic is due in part not only to the county’s contribution, but also to organizations such as the United Way, which helped organize the event and raise additional funding.
“It has been sustainable but only honestly through the generosity of so many who stepped forward to help,” Alsobrooks said.
“It was just a delight to see the smile, the relief of some stress,” said Daryl Sims, a member of the county executive’s office who helped hand out meals.
For those on the receiving end, “it means a lot,” said Sabrina McDuffie, of D.C., who picked up meals to hand out to several people in the county.
“There are a lot of people out here that don’t have access to food, or there is no way they have money to buy food,” she said.
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