A multi-tier approach is playing out in Montgomery County to ensure families are getting the support they need to keep everyone fed.
According to a recent article by ABC 7 News, Montgomery County council members, the local Board of Education, and the Health and Human Services Department are leaving no stone unturned to combat food insecurity in the jurisdiction. The report shares that of 160,000 children affected by food insecurity in Maryland, almost 34,000 of them are in Montgomery. Local leaders unveiled the new plan on Wednesday, which will build on existing programs and look to establish some new ones.
The plan is estimated to cost $20M according to Councilmember Gabe Albornoz who outlined the 14 different strategies being employed in the effort. The full plan is available at the county government website.
Councilmember @albornoz_gabe kicks off a press conference to unveil the Strategic Plan to End Childhood Hunger. He is joined by joined by @MontCoExec Elrich, @MCPS Dr. Monifa McKnight, the Office of Food Systems Resilience, @MoCoFoodCouncil and community members. pic.twitter.com/tg2CdN7wTg
— Montgomery Council (@MoCoCouncilMD) September 6, 2023
One of those new approaches is working with healthcare providers and pediatricians to prescribe healthy meals. As previously covered on the Conduit Street blog, states like Oregon have actually applied for and received a Medicaid waiver that allows funding to be used for medically-tailored meals as prescribed by doctors. This push has continued across the country as part of the “Food is Medicine” movement.
As was heard recently at the MACo Summer conference, Montgomery also used a large portion of their ARPA dollars to expand language services within their Health and Human Services Department and those similar strategies are being deployed in this plan. As Montgomery has the most ethnically diverse population in the state, their data sets are utilizing GIS Technology to not only map the location of homes experiencing food insecurity but a range of other variables such as language spoken in the households. These socio-cultural insights are allowing service providers more intel to customize support to meet residents where they are and break down common access barriers like language.
The pages and pages of acknowledgements at the end of the report show what a massive and collaborative lift this new plan has already taken and continues to require. As counties move forward with efforts to meet some of the greatest needs residents have, opportunities to partner with the state will also help address these issues in all jurisdictions.