Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman has signed Executive Order Number 60 to establish the Anne Arundel County Food Council. The organization will address inequity in the food system, create an inclusive mechanism to launch and coordinate food policies and programs, reduce food insecurity in Anne Arundel County and improve equitable access to nutritious food.
The Council will focus on supporting the local food economy and food infrastructure of low access areas, and will advise Pittman and county agencies on methods to improve equitable access to healthy and culturally-appropriate food for all residents.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Anne Arundel County established a food access workgroup to coordinate efforts among multiple agencies and nonprofits working to reduce food insecurity. Building on this work, Pittman’s executive order provides a permanent, coordinated, multi-disciplinary effort to address food access issues and the associated health issues.
Costs for food and other household necessities have increased dramatically during the last year. The result has been an increased need for supplemental food resources across the community. The county’s food bank, with its 80 member agency partners, is experiencing a steady rise in requests for assistance. Currently, the food bank is averaging 41,000 individual points of service every month, compared to 38,000 a month last year.
While the need continues to grow, available funding is shrinking. With the discontinuation of COVID-19-era federal funds provided through the American Rescue Plan Act, the ability to provide enough free food resources to meet the need is in jeopardy.
“The need for supplemental food in communities across the county is significant. The high cost of food and housing, coupled with the need for improved public transportation places a heavy burden on our neighbors as they try to feed their families,” said Leah Paley, CEO of the Anne Arundel County Food Bank.
“Consistent access to nutritious, fresh food options is a matter of equity and food justice. We are grateful to the County Executive and all our partners working on these issues. The Food Council brings together many stakeholders and creates an opportunity for real, positive change for Anne Arundel County.”