Thank you to our partners and supporters for their continued contributions to our work. Read on for more information about our achievements in January 2021!
Community Engagement and Network Building:
During the month of January, the Food Council hosted 10 meetings attended by more than 300 community members, including three working group meetings, two Food Security Community Calls, the first round of the Gardening Grant showcase, advocacy discussions with local elected officials, and several meetings for the County’s Food Security Task Force. The Food Council also hosted a virtual service activity for Hunger Free America’s “Serve-A-Thon” event, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and attended the Hunger Free America Anti-Hunger Conference. In total, the Food Council participated in over 50 community engagements this January, connecting with over 600 local residents, businesses, nonprofits, and government leaders.
Our communications team shared over 100 social media posts (on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) related to food assistance resources and distribution events, and our website received 5,756 visits to pages pertaining to food security resources. The Food Council also launched a short, 8-question COVID-19 Community Food Access Survey in English, Spanish, Amharic, French, and Mandarin to collect input from residents that will guide the County’s food distribution plans in 2021. In an effort to continue building the capacity of local food system partners, we shared information about various grant opportunities for food assistance providers, businesses, and farms, as well as job openings that are available at several of our partner organizations.
Food Security Highlights:
- The Food Council co-hosted a virtual training on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) with Maryland Hunger Solutions on Thursday, January 21st for over 30 food assistance provider partners and County staff who respond to calls from residents through the Montgomery County Food Access Call Center.
- JD Robinson, Anti-Hunger Program Associate at Maryland Hunger Solutions, presented an overview of SNAP, including eligibility requirements, details of allowed purchases, and information on recent updates to the SNAP program in response to the pandemic.
- The Food Council and Maryland Hunger Solutions participated in a panel discussion hosted by Hunger Free America on January 19th, entitled “Food Justice is Food Policy: Community, State, and National Levels of Food Assistance Policy,” and led a virtual service activity to raise awareness of food resources around the country.
- Using social media language prepared by the Food Council and Maryland Hunger Solutions, volunteers created and shared content on their social media channels, focused on three hunger topic areas: how to find food assistance resources; how to find information about hunger in your area; and how to engage in advocacy on hunger issues in your area.
- SNAP County Workgroup: The monthly meeting for this new Workgroup took place on 1/12, and was attended by six participants that represent organizations and individuals that work on SNAP outreach and/or enrollment in Montgomery County.
Working Group and Committee Meeting Highlights:
Over 295 community partners joined us for our working group meetings this month.
- The Environmental Impact Working Group meeting on 1/5 was attended by 17 community stakeholders, and focused on the EIWG outcome goals for 2021.
- Those interested in joining the next Environmental Impact Working Group meeting on 3/2 can sign up to receive information here.
- The Food Economy Working Group meeting on 1/20 was attended by 23 community stakeholders, and focused on financial resources that are available to local food and beverage businesses. Sarah Miller, VP of Strategy at MCEDC, Lucien Smith, Small Business Advisor at WACIF, and Daniel Friedman, Loan Operations Manager at LEDC, each shared information about the resources that their organizations offer to local small businesses.
- Those interested in joining the next Food Economy Working Group meeting on 2/24 can sign up to receive information here.
- The Food Education Working Group meeting on 1/26 was attended by 26 community stakeholders, and featured the first round of the Gardening Grant Showcase. Sibyl Brown from Shepherd’s Table, a Montgomery County Resident and Community Food Production Gardening Grant awardee, presented the project that the organization is implementing to expand their gardening space and program offerings.
- Those interested in joining the next Food Education Working Group meeting on 2/23 can sign up for updates on this Working Group here.
- The Food Recovery and Access Working Group continues to meet on a bi-weekly basis, during our Food Security Community Calls. Our early January discussion about food- and nutrition- related policy opportunities in 2021 featured speakers from Maryland Hunger Solutions, No Kid Hungry Maryland, and the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). In late January, our call focused on resources for energy assistance, food waste management, and opportunities for faith-based organizations to partner on vaccine outreach, featuring speakers from the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Holy Cross Hospital. During the month of January, approximately 229 total participants joined our Food Security Calls.
- The Food Security Community Calls are held via Zoom, and are open to the public. Please register in advance here.
Policy and Advocacy Highlights:
- In early January, the Food Council shared the 2021 Montgomery County Food System Policy and Program Recommendations. These recommendations are intended to serve as a guide for Countywide food system advocacy efforts in 2021, and reflect our core priorities of equity, community, and economic and environmental sustainability.
- Throughout the month of January, the Food Council signed on to partner letters of support for various bills introduced to the Maryland General Assembly, including HB248 and HB61. Our 2021 Policy Tracking document can be found here.
- The monthly meeting of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) FARM Committee, which our Executive Director Heather Bruskin serves on, took place on 1/8, engaging nearly 50 individuals.
- The Food Council continues to participate in meetings with the Better Buses Coalition, including a meeting with Council President Hucker on 1/13, during which time the Coalition presented our platform and discussed opportunities for legislative support. This meeting engaged 12 additional community partners.
Thanks to all of our partners for continuing to support our efforts! Check back next month for another update. Please contact email@example.com with any questions.