For Immediate Release
Contact: Kirsten Bokenkamp, 202-986-2200 x 3974; email@example.com
ANNAPOLIS – March 21, 2013 – Nearly 100 anti-hunger and anti-poverty advocates, policymakers, and Maryland residents who have experienced hunger and poverty gathered Thursday morning for the Fighting Hunger and Poverty Breakfast in Annapolis to discuss these challenges in Maryland and to outline solutions.
Held a few weeks after a report released by the Food Research and Action Center found that nearly one in six households in Maryland was unable to afford enough food in 2012, the breakfast allowed attendees to hear from individuals about their struggles with food insecurity and the challenges of living in or near poverty. Speakers connected the dots between hunger, poverty, low wages, health, homelessness, and budget priorities.
Among the speakers were State Senator Jamie Raskin; Delegate Keith Haynes; Rosemary Malone of the Maryland Department of Human Resources; Cathy Demeroto of Maryland Hunger Solutions; Dr. Maureen Black of the University of Maryland School of Medicine; Neil Bergsman of the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute; Adam Schneider of Maryland Alliance for the Poor; and Shaunte Bomar, a Witness to Hunger from Baltimore who shared her experiences with hunger and poverty.
“Maryland is fortunate to have so many leaders and advocates throughout the state who are dedicated to ending hunger and who came today to discuss solutions,” said Cathy Demeroto, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, one of the groups that organized the event. “There’s a role for everyone in the fight against hunger, and all organizations — public and private — that touch the lives of low-income children, families and communities must be engaged in the effort to end hunger and improve nutrition.”
A general theme that was repeated throughout the event by many of the speakers was how vital federal safety net programs, including the Food Supplement Program (formerly known as food stamps and known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, nationally), are to ensuring that vulnerable Marylanders have enough food to put on the table.
“During the recession, many Maryland families who had never before sought public assistance experienced hunger for the first time,” said DHR Secretary Ted Dallas in a written statement. “Through our Food Supplement Program we’ve made sure 117,000 additional low-income children have access to the food they need for good health. Maryland Hunger Solutions continues to be a strong partner in our effort to reach and enroll all eligible families in our state.”
There also was an emphasis on one of Maryland’s most vulnerable populations – children.
“We have seen a dramatic increase in food insecurity among families with young children at the University of Maryland in Baltimore,” said Dr. Maureen Black. “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.”
Breakfast attendees had the opportunity to visit a Witnesses to Hunger exhibit, which featured photographs from mothers and caregivers from Maryland who documented their personal experience with hunger and poverty. Attendees also participated in Maryland Hunger Solutions’ Paper Apple Campaign by writing their ideas – on paper apples – on how to eliminate hunger and poverty in the state, joining the hundreds of apples from every county in the state that have been collected over the past year.
The breakfast was organized by Maryland Hunger Solutions and the Witnesses to Hunger-Baltimore project of the Center for Hunger Free Communities in partnership with AARP Maryland, Maryland Alliance for the Poor, and Welfare Advocates.