County Executive Calvin Ball launched a new food distribution map for Howard County residents seeking food pantries or access to free meals. The innovative map currently lists 31 locations offering groceries, produce, non-perishables, fresh and frozen meals for students, residents, and older adults in need.
“No one should have to choose between paying rent or purchasing food for themselves or their family, and COVID-19 has forced many of our residents into unimaginable financial situations,” said Ball. “Since the beginning of this pandemic, more than 44,000 Howard County residents have filed for unemployment or pandemic assistance, it’s clear access to food and groceries is one of the most urgent needs our residents are facing. We’ve seen our community organizations, non-profits, and neighbors step-up to support one another, and we saw an opportunity to make it easier for folks to find what they need. This map clearly shows the daily options for groceries, food pantries, and meal pickups, and will hopefully reduce the stress for many people trying to figure out where to find the resources they need.”
Listings on the map includes free meals for students provided by Howard County Public School System, meals for older adults provided by the Department of Community Resources and Services, food pantries supported by local churches and communities, and assorted groceries and produce from Community Organizations Active in Disaster.
The food distribution map is the fourth in a series of mapping tools Ball has unveiled since the pandemic started. HoCo Food Go was launched ten days after the stay-at-home order to connect residents with 190 restaurants and bars offering carry-out and delivery. Restaurants can be filtered by type, including deli, bakery, fast food, casual fast, casual contemporary, and traditional. Each restaurant description also includes information about carry out alcohol, dietary restrictions, and kids menus.
HoCo Farms Connect was launched in April to connect residents with the nearly 40 farms in Howard County that sell produce, meat, dairy and other products directly to customers. Residents can search for farms by the type of products that are available for purchase such as eggs, fruits, vegetables, chicken, pork, or community supported agriculture. Each farm description also includes information about the farm and store hours.
HoCo Donation Collection was created to direct residents and businesses to organizations that collect food, and other essential donations to distribute to the community in need. The online tool allows residents to find locations and organizations to drop-off product donations including groceries, toiletries, and cleaning products. There are 20 locations currently listed, and each listing includes a contact, hours for drop-off, and a list of needs.