CUMBERLAND — The Western Maryland Food Bank will be breaking out its latest tool in the fight against food insecurity in the region — portable grocery carts — at its May 11 pop-out pantry.
The food bank received a grant for $1,500 through the County United Way to acquire the carts, said Amy Moyer, the food bank’s executive director.
“This cart is going to open up possibilities,” she said. “It’s something that has the steps to really have an impact on access. Transportation is always an issue here.”
Every person has their own circumstance, Moyer said. Sometimes people are dropped off at the food bank and don’t have a car for the return trip; some don’t have a car to get to the pantry in the first place. When such things occur, people will get the food they can carry home, which is not necessarily the amount of food they require.
The food bank is looking to alleviate this issue. Moyer said they see a lack of reliable transportation as a prevalent issue.
These carts will be available to be assigned, with different sizes for single people and families. The carts are designed so that they can go up steps, as well as be completely foldable to fit in vehicles or other tight spaces.
Registration for a cart can be done by calling the food bank, emailing Moyer, visiting the food bank website and through messages on Facebook.
And it comes at a time when demand in the region keeps rising. The nonprofit has seen a 60% increase in demand for food in the early part of the year over last year.
At pop-out pantry events, food is given out in a drive-by fashion and anywhere from 250 to 400 cars will come through during a three-hour period. On Tuesday, 272 families came though.
“It’s difficult to face such a huge jump in need,” said Moyer. “Get emergency food to individuals in need, just trying to meet as much need as possible. We’ve been able to manage the food that we need.”
The food bank puts up a notice on its Facebook page 24 hours to a week before pop-out pantry events.
For now, Western Maryland Food Bank’s number one need is donations, as with its supply lines it can get the requisite food, and it has more than enough volunteers.
It’s going on two years now that the nonprofit has been unable to host its biggest fundraiser, Chefs of Steel, which is done in conjunction with Allegany College of Maryland, said Moyer.