Baltimore City is boosting its fight against food insecurity driven by the COVID-19 pandemic with an additional $11 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds, bringing the City’s total ARPA commitment to $26 million.
During the pandemic, food insecurity rates across the City increased from 18% to 21.7%, with 33% of children being food insecure. Similarly, SNAP participation skyrocketed, rising from 25% of Baltimore City residents to over 33% (approximately 200,000 people). Baltimore City Mayor Brandon M. Scott discussed how the added funding would help the City’s residents in a press release:
“Food insecurity has skyrocketed due to the pandemic, and there is a genuine need to address these issues for our residents,” said Mayor Scott. “We have learned invaluable lessons over the last two years as the fragility of our food system, and the ability to feed our residents was exposed during the pandemic. This investment will help comprehensively address the nutritional insecurity our residents face daily by promoting food resiliency and equity, increasing access to healthy, affordable food, and addressing the food supply chain failure by building the Back, Indigenous, and People of Color local food supply chain.”
The $11 million in added funded will support five initiatives included in the City’s nutritional security programming:
- Continuation of produce box distribution;
- Online SNAP fruit and vegetable incentives;
- Expansion of nutrition incentives at farmers’ markets;
- MedStar Harbor Hospital’s Good Food Rx program; and
- The Farm Alliance of Baltimore’s Urban Farmer Academy.
Last Fall, Baltimore City had allocated $16 million to the City’s Health Department to provide 20,000 fresh meals per month, 1,200 grocery boxes per month, and a food delivery service for seniors and home-bound populations. The total $26 million investment aims to address the COVID-19 food insecurity crisis and develop long-term solutions for a more equitable food system.
Read more about Baltimore City’s ARPA initiatives here.