The media coverage of the closing of Santoni’s Market ("Highlandtown Santoni’s folds," Oct. 14) has overlooked one immediate and lasting effect the closing will have on Highlandtown and the surrounding neighborhoods.
With Santoni’s closing, another Baltimore community will lose ready access to nutritional food. Already, almost a quarter of Baltimore’s children live in a food desert — a low-income area where the distance to the nearest supermarket is more than a quarter mile and more than 40 percent of households have no access to personal transportation.
These food deserts are often dotted with small convenience and corner stores that provide limited food choice and few if any affordable, fresh foods.
When Santoni’s shuts for good, more Baltimoreans will lose access to a place where they can purchase those fresh, healthy food items.
For Baltimoreans in need, accessing good healthy food is already a daunting task. With groceries closing and federal programs like Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and food stamps under constant attack in Washington, the task becomes even more difficult.
In Baltimore, we have fostered collaboration between the nonprofit, public and private sectors to ease hunger, especially among children.
To that end, the Baltimore Partnership to End Childhood Hunger, a citywide initiative, will release an Action Plan outlining short- and long-term strategies on Oct. 24.
The plan, spearheaded by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and facilitated by the Family League of Baltimore and Share Our Strength, outlines strategies to increase participation in federally funded nutrition programs, as well as policy strategies to improve these programs. One key policy goal is to secure more state funding to expand the reach of existing food programs.
All Marylanders can support the partnership’s action plan by contacting state legislators and Gov. Martin O’Malley and urging them to include $7 million in additional funding for programs to stamp out hunger, including the Maryland After-school and Summer Opportunity Fund; Maryland Meals for Achievement, which funds classroom breakfast; and Meals on Wheels.
Jonathon Rondeau, Baltimore
The writer is president and CEO of the Family League of Baltimore, which houses the Baltimore Partnership to End Childhood Hunger. The National Food Day event will be held from 3-5:30 p.m. on Oct. 14 at Real Food Farm in Clifton Park.