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Hunger project with a strong Cockeysville presence needed now more than ever

Volunteers at Padonia International Elementary School oversee bags of goods to be distributed to people in need through the Baltimore Hunger Project. - Original Credit:
Volunteers at Padonia International Elementary School oversee bags of goods to be distributed to people in need through the Baltimore Hunger Project. - Original Credit: (Courtesy Photo / HANDOUT)

Even before the pandemic, food insecurity was a problem for so many of our vulnerable neighbors, especially the children.

The Baltimore Hunger Project (BHP) is a local organization that is truly stepping up to meet the challenge of feeding students throughout the city and county who are now staying at home and missing out on the meals they would eat at school.

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During the school year, the BHP, which operates out of a warehouse in Cockeysville, typically provides about 650 children with food packages to take home each weekend. Fast forward to today and that number has skyrocketed to 2,300!

“Childhood hunger is something we at Baltimore Hunger Project always knew existed, but because of this pandemic, it’s now something everybody knows about. The need, right now, is extraordinary,” says Lynne B Kahn, founder and executive director of the Baltimore Hunger Project.

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Inspired by the story of an organization in Florida that provided weekend nutrition packages to students, Lynne founded the BHP in 2014, and this impressive, all-volunteer operation has grown from providing just a few children with weekend food to now supplying thousands.

For the past 15 weeks, volunteers have distributed thousands of pounds of food, bread, books, play packs, arts, snacks and produce at many Baltimore County and city sites. Locally, Padonia International Elementary School is a distribution site and will continue to be throughout the summer from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. every Friday (rain or shine).

During this time, volunteers have been hard at work stocking the BHP warehouse, organizing deliveries, manning distribution sites and collecting notes of encouragement to distribute along with the food.

With some of the project’s normal supply chains impacted by the pandemic, donors, corporate partnerships and municipal assistance are more important than ever. Monetary donations or donations of ready-to-eat canned goods, granola bars and other snacks are welcomed (check out its Amazon Wish List!) and partners like Amazon, Five Below, Hungry Harvest and H&S Bakery are making a difference.

Fundraising efforts also are helping to support the cause, with organizations like Stages Music Arts raising $5,000 during a virtual benefit concert and Embody Pilates donating the proceeds of special Zoom classes.

It is so wonderful to see the community pitching to support this wonderful organization. For more information, go to balitmorehungerproject.org.

Jennifer Jimenez Maraña, director of diversity and inclusion at the Broadmead retirement community in Cockeysville, recently was honored with a 2020 Leaders in Diversity Award from the Baltimore Business Journal.

Dr. Maraña joins a dozen other honorees from around the region being recognized as professionals who have worked tirelessly to promote diversity within organizations in the Greater Baltimore community.

During her time at Broadmead, Dr. Maraña has worked diligently to develop and implement new programs and strategies designed to build a more inclusive community and expand programs to a broader, culturally diverse population of older adults.

Dr. Maraña explains that “my role is to lead a cultural transformation as Broadmead’s community shifts into the future of serving a growing, diverse population of residents. The community truly holds a sincere commitment to the vision of diversity, inclusion and acceptance — values that I hold in all aspects of life.”

According to Broadmead’s website, it was founded on “Quaker-guided values which speak to a capacity for love, concern for one another, personal integrity [and] an appreciation for the simple things in life.”

Congratulations to Jennifer on receiving this recognition and working to promote those ideals so critical to the values of the Broadmead community.

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