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Two Maryland food banks merge

Two partner organizations dedicated to ending hunger in Maryland for more than 20 years have merged.

The Maryland Food Bank and Food Resources of Hagerstown have united to form the Maryland Food Bank – Western Branch, a facility that will become a central distribution point for a network of more than 120 soup kitchens, pantries, shelters and other community-based organizations in Allegany, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties.

The merger allows Food Resources to broaden services to the entire Western Maryland region and the more than 52,000 residents who are struggling to provide food for themselves, the groups said. A recent study by Feeding America, the national network of food banks, found that food insecure individuals in the state's four westernmost counties miss 8.7 million meals each year. Food Resources and other local agencies currently distribute 1.7 million meals annually.

"This merger is critical to bridging the hunger gap in Western Maryland," said Maryland Food Bank CEO Deborah Flateman in a press release Wednesday.

The newly organized branch will add several more employees, upgrade technology and transportation systems and be able to access more funding opportunities as a result of the merger, which took effect April 2.

Mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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