St. Mary’s County’s first food bank is now open for business, right in time to provide additional support to food pantries and soup kitchens in the county during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Established by members of the Lexington Park Rotary Club in partnership with local stakeholders, faith-based organizations and government agencies, Feed St. Mary’s stores food for distribution to the county’s 15 food pantries. All food received goes toward supporting organizations dedicated to relieving food insecurity in the county. In 2016, an estimate of one in eight Americans were food insecure, according to feedstmarys.org.
The food bank occupies a 3,000-square-foot store front at 46041 Signature Lane Road in Great Mills, where the old McKay’s food store used to be located, in a building now shared with a U-Haul dealer. It is fully outfitted with all necessary pallet handling and storage equipment and also a large walk-in cooler and refrigeration unit.
Feed St. Mary’s began officially conducting business last Friday, when it received its first delivery of food from the Maryland Food Bank.
“A truck delivered a couple thousand pounds of food, some of which has been distributed to two pilot pantries” at Church of the Ascension food pantry and the Good Samaritan Bread of Life food pantry, said Charlie Wharton, lead marketing volunteer of the food bank.
Although some were hoping for the food bank to open sooner, it seemed to happen just “when the time was right,” Wharton told The Enterprise this week. “Toward the end of 2019 we started looking for a date to get contracts in place. It took longer than we wanted it to, but it ended up coinciding with this pandemic.”
A celebration was planned to signal the initial delivery of food, but that was postponed due to the coronavirus, as social distancing has become the new norm.
Wharton said the group will eventually have “a time of celebration for the community” and the stakeholders who gave so much of their own time and effort to support the food bank, but he “has no clue when that will be.”
Feed St. Mary’s wants people to know “we are not a food pantry, we are a food bank and we are not in competition with other food pantries and soup kitchens in the county. Our job is to support them,” Wharton said.
Linda Lymas, founder and volunteer board chair for Feed St. Mary’s, said the food bank has been “looking forward to the first day of delivery,” since they started forming in 2017.
She shared they are “very pleased” the Maryland Food Bank sent extra food in its shipment to give the food bank a “jump-start in taking care of the crisis that’s going on.”
The local food bank is inviting local food pantries to contact them about becoming partners and has scheduled a training session in April to assist interested organizations in the application process, according to Lymas. She said they are also inviting organizations interested to start up new food pantries in the county.
Lymas stressed, “We are in this together and we will feed St. Mary’s together.”
Organizations that provide food directly to people in need or anyone interested in monetarily supporting Feed St. Mary’s food bank should contact Feed St. Mary’s directly via feedstmarys.org or by calling 240-237-8297. Financial contributions may be made online or mailed to P.O. Box 212, Lexington Park, MD 20653.