The Anne Arundel County Food Bank (AACFB) officially launched its Mobile Food Pantry with a ribbon-cutting ceremony preceded by remarks by AACFB CEO Leah Paley, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, county Community Engagement Officer Courtney Buiniskis, and M&T Bank Senior Vice President Moke Wolff. Immediately following the ceremony, the mobile pantry visited locations in Lothian and Harwood, distributing fresh produce, meat, and shelf-stable foods to approximately 80 households.
The custom 2021 Ford F-59 Step Van allows the food bank to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen lean meats, dry packaged foods, and basic necessities directly to the communities where transportation and access to healthy food options are limited.
“It is our sincere hope that the mobile food pantry will help eliminate the transportation barrier for residents who do not live near a food distribution site,” said AACFB Chief Executive Officer Leah Paley. “Increased access to nutritious food not only supports health and wellness but also works to honor cultural and family traditions. Neighbors using the pantry select the food items they desire, empowering individuals to determine their own food choices and reducing food waste.”
Although Anne Arundel County is one of the wealthiest counties in the state, an estimated 35 percent of county residents (individuals and families) are below the federal poverty level or are employed but unable to meet basic needs (food, childcare, housing, healthcare, and transportation). Between July 2022 and June 2023, our total network of food pantries recorded 48,000 visits each month.
The mobile food pantry holds approximately 3,000 pounds of food and basic necessities, allowing AACFB to serve about 100 households with each visit. Six racks store shelf-stable items and a refrigerator and freezer contain perishable and frozen items. The food bank works with county agencies to identify locations for the Mobile Food Pantry’s points of service.
The launch coincided with Hunger Action Month, a nationwide campaign uniting national organizations and local and state food banks to bring awareness to food insecurity.