FIGHTING HUNGER & POVERTY BREAKFAST
I was among a group of anti-hunger, anti-poverty advocate, policy makers and Maryland residents gathered in Annapolis this morning. We discussed the challenges and realities of hunger in Maryland as well as possible solutions. We are one of the wealthiest states, yet one in eight households in Maryland faces a struggle against hunger.
Cathy Demeroto, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions welcomed us. Demeroto said, “There’s a role for everyone in the fight against hunger.” Maryland Hunger Solutions helped organize the event.
Delegate Keith Haynes of the 44th District talked about his fundamental beliefs. “There is absolutely no reason why when we are the wealthiest state that there should be the numbers we see regarding hunger.” Haynes is willing to partner with organizations to fight hunger. “It’s a sad thing to have to decide several times a day where your next meal is coming from.” He said.
Rosemary Malone is the Executive Director of the Family Investment Administration. Malone talked about SNAP formerly known as food stamp benefits. She explained how many farmers markets are accepting them now giving people access to healthier food choices.
Dr. Maureen Black, Professor, Growth & Nutrition Division, Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine sees young children with hunger problems weekly. She empathized that “By undermining the health and well-being of young children during the period of rapid brain development, food insecurity increases disparities and puts our youngest citizens at risk for lifelong health consequences.”
Jenny Rabinowich a Program Manager with Witnesses to Hunger said “the real experts are those who are experiencing hunger & poverty.”
Shaunte Bomar, a witness with Witnesses to Hunger shared her story. Bomar captivated the attendees with unfortunate reality. She is a working mother of three and is experiencing difficulties getting SNAP benefits. Her daughter is handicapped and needs injections to live. According to Bomar, Baltimore City Schools has no trained people to administer these, so she must send her child to private school. Bomar struggles to put food on the table for her girls and to pay for life needed medication.
Neil Bergsman, Director of the Maryland Budget & Tax Policy Institute said” Cutting food for the hungry shouldn’t be part of any partisan policy deal.”
Adam Schneider, who is the Chair of Maryland Alliance for the Poor also Director of Community Relations at Health Care for the Homeless, spoke about how we should be outraged to live in such a wealthy country ad have these issues of hunger. “It’s not as though there isn’t enough food.”
Tony Simmons represented The Faces of Homelessness Speakers Bureau. Simmons talked about how he can eat the healthy food he needs thanks to the SNAP program. He also illustrated how hard it is to live off a $187 a month.
Breakfast attendees visited a Witnesses to Hunger exhibit featuring photos from Maryland Mothers & Caregivers documenting their personal experiences with hunger & poverty. Maryland Hunger Solutions Paper Apple Campaign gave participants the chance to write their solutions to eliminating hunger & poverty on an apple. This is being done as collection throughout every county in Maryland.
The Hunger & Poverty breakfast was organized by Maryland Hunger Solutions and the Witness to Hunger-Baltimore project for Hunger Free Communities in partnership with AARP Maryland, Maryland Alliance for the Poor (MAP) and Welfare Advocates.