Food Recovery and Access

Food Access Working Group

 

 

 

The mission of the Food Recovery and Access working group is to support the increased recovery of, equitable access to and advocacy for more healthful food for Montgomery County residents. We will do this by working with the Food Council leadership to build capacity of food assistance organizations, amplify the work of Community Food Rescue, and integrate local and regional efforts into the work of community, non-profit, business and government stakeholders.

Our goals include:

  • Increase access to nutritious, locally-produced food in Communities of Limited Access
  • Implement initiatives to address food access issues
  • Develop and post information about organizations, non-profits, county offices, and other entities with programs that address food access issues
  • Raise awareness of local and regional recovery efforts and build capacity of recovery organizations to address community needs

Current Initiatives

Montgomery County Food Security Plan – We are supporting the implementation of the County’s Food Security Plan by: increasing connectivity, collaboration and information sharing among food security providers; assisting with the standardization of Food Assistance Provider data collection; advising on the creation of County
FoodStat (a database to track and annually report out food system data); and identifying high priority zones in the County. For a full update on the implementation of the Food Security Plan, please click here.

‘Screen and Intervene’ by Healthcare Providers – Toward our efforts of engaging the health care sector in advancing food security, we’ve convened a group of representatives from the major providers to discuss the current state of screening for food insecurity and the subsequent referrals to food assistance providers and health promotion services. We are creating a survey to inventory existing “screen and intervene”- style programs, and we will facilitate regular meetings with this group to share best practices and develop ways to increase screening.

Food Is Medicine – We are collaborating on The Food is Medicine program with the Primary Care Coalition, CHEER, Manna Food Center, Mobile Med Inc., Mercy Health Clinic, and many other organizations to integrate food assistance and nutrition education into Montgomery County’s safety-net health care programs by establishing infrastructure and support to provide routine food insecurity screening, generate referrals to community partners, and conduct needed follow-up and support.

Expanding Food Recovery – We are working with a renovated commercial kitchen space at Silver Spring United Methodist Church at Four Corners that will be used, in part, to process food received by the Community Food Rescue network into prepared items that can be shared with recipient organizations that don’t have a prep kitchen.

Hunger-Free Zone – As a follow-up to our 2015 Food Community Access Assessment Report, we are working to define and develop metrics for a Hunger-Free Zone, to improve coordination and capacity of food assistance organizations, and to reduce the number of people in Montgomery County who are categorized as food insecure.

Strengthening SNAP – We are examining ways to increase the number of SNAP/WIC approved retailers, to improve ability for eligible households to receive and maintain benefits, and to work with Maryland Hunger Solutions to support the SNAP program in Montgomery County. In May 2018, we recorded a training webinar with DHHS’ Neighborhood Opportunity Network providers and Maryland Hunger Solutions to support food assistance organizations in providing SNAP outreach and application assistance.  

Past Accomplishments

Food Assistance Resource Directory – We created a comprehensive list of all current hunger relief
resources and emergency food providers in Montgomery County. This directory – which will be a valuable resource for individuals experiencing food insecurity, providers, and government agency staff – will frame the current state of food insecurity in the County and highlight existing efforts and gaps in services provided.

 Supported the work of Community Food Rescue (CFR) – CFR is a collaborative system in Montgomery County that rescues leftover food and redirects it to residents in need before it is sent to landfills and incinerators. Food that is unfit for humans is sent to farmers for animal feed or to a composting facility.

Conducted research on areas of low food access in the County by:

  • Hosting seven directly translated listening sessions in communities of low food access in Fall 2014, with over 70 participants.
  • Developing an online food access survey and began a Healthy Food Access Inventory Survey, launched Spring 2015.
  • Conducting Healthy Food Availability Index (HFAI) assessments at food retail establishments serving communities of low food access. The MoCo Food Access Report, which details our mapping, focus group, and survey efforts was published in Fall 2015.

Our Volunteers

 

Jenna Umbriac, Manna Food Center - If we are coordinated enough to recruit enough people who care, we could make a big impact on Montgomery County's food system.