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County Plan Unveiled to Give Away Wasted Food from Grocery Stores, Catered Events

Countywide food recovery network could be first in nation.

County Plan Unveiled to Give Away Wasted Food from Grocery Stores, Catered Events

Montgomery County officials were at Montgomery College’s Rockville campus Tuesday outlining what it would take to launch a program that would re-distribute food that would otherwise go to waste.

It’s believed that the proposed countywide program would be the first of its kind in the nation, county spokespeople have said.

The effort is being led by County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring).Ervin convened the press conference hours after a work group presented a roadmap to the Montgomery County Council for establishing a process for collecting unused, edible food and distributing to nonprofit providers who serve the hungry.

Back in January, Ervin led the “SNAP the Silence” movement that encouraged elected officials and everyday citizens to spend only $5 a day on food—an amount slightly higher than the $4.28 average daily allowance per person for those on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Last week, a staff member for Ervin told The Gazette the food recovery network proposes incorporating planned “recoveries,” like when a supermarket knows it will have surplus food, and “unplanned pickups,” like re-distributing edible leftovers from large weddings or catering events.

Manna Food Center, which is headquartered in Gaithersburg, is Montgomery County’s main food bank, county officials said. Jenna Umbriac, Manna’s director of nutrition programs, told The Gazette that restaurants and caterers might be an untapped market.

The work group—made up of government and school officials and representatives from local food banks, grocery store chains and nonprofits—was established to study the feasibility of such a program, Patch has reported.

In April, the County Council approved an appropriation of $200,000 to the Department of Health and Human Services to implement a food recovery system, county records show.

According to the report presented Tuesday, 1 in 8 Marylanders are food insecure. Also, one-third of students in Montgomery’s public schools qualify for Free and Reduced Price Meals (FARMS).

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