Frederick Food Security Network Launches to Battle Food Insecurity

FREDERICK, Maryland—The Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies at Hood College has launched the Frederick Food Security Network (FFSN) to combat food insecurity in Frederick County, Maryland.

The FFSN aims to provide healthy produce to those who cannot afford it and who live in food deserts, or areas where a high percentage of people fall below the federal poverty line and where there isn’t an easily accessible grocery store. In Frederick city alone, it is estimated that more than 500 families are affected by food deserts.

“Food insecurity, or a lack of consistent access to enough affordable, culturally appropriate, and healthful food, afflicts every town and city in our nation, even those we would consider relatively affluent ones like Frederick, Maryland,” said Connie Ray, CCMA AmeriCorps VISTA member, who is working for Hood College as the FFSN project lead.

The FFSN has partnered with Frederick Memorial Hospital, the Islamic Society of Frederick, the Boys & Girls Club of Frederick County and the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs to build garden beds that grow fresh produce for those affected by food insecurity. Many of these beds are self-irrigating; rooftop storm water runoff is filtered and redirected to them, keeping the beds healthy between rainstorms and saving water.

Thanks to grant funding and volunteer work, this network has grown more than 1,500 pounds of produce that has reached approximately 400 Frederick families in 2018. Grants from the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek, Aramark Dining Services, the Helen J. Serini Foundation, and jointly the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the EPA Region III have contributed to the construction and management of the gardens. Also, together with its partners, in 2018 the FFSN has engaged nearly 200 community volunteers in more than 1,300 volunteer hours, including numerous Hood College students, staff and faculty.

“We are very proud of the work our network members and volunteers have put into this effort over the last year and a half, and of all we have been able to achieve together,” said Ray. “Still, our work is only just beginning. We continue to plan for ways to grow the program, improve its outcomes, and expand its impact.”

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