The Maryland Food Bank already has much to be thankful for. And it's really thankful for Maryland's farmers.
Five months into its fiscal year, the Food Bank reports that 51 Maryland farmers have donated more than a million pounds of fresh produce through the "Farm to Food Bank" program. That equates to more than 769,000 meals.
The Farm to Food Bank program was created last year by the Maryland Food Bank with a two-year, $250,000 USDA grant. About $75,000 of that is used to help farmers offset their costs in growing extra food so that it can be donated, explains John May, the bank's senior vice president of operations.
At best, he adds, farmers may break even by participating. But most donate time and labor as well as produce. None actually make money.
Last year, 27 farmers – all but one on the Eastern Shore – participated in the program and donated 515,000 pounds. Only five months into its fiscal year, Farm-to-Food" has received twice as much as it did all of last year. All donated food is redistributed through the Food Banks' 600 partnering agencies and organizations that provide food directly to families and other agencies across the state.
Of the 51 farmers participating this year, 41 are on the Eastern Shore, four are in Washington County, three are in Baltimore County, two are in Southern Maryland, and one is in Anne Arundel County.