By: Albert Ivory, Contributing Writer
Towson University students volunteered at the Maryland Food Bank on Feb. 15 where they froze and packaged meals as part of TU Serves, a community service-based student organization on campus.
TU Serves volunteers at a different organization every month around the greater Baltimore region. Next month, the organization will volunteer at the Believe in Tomorrow House, an organization that provides accommodations to families of children receiving treatment at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
Lisa Hill, the Office of Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility’s coordinator of community service, decided this month’s TU Serves students would volunteer at Maryland Food Bank because the organization advocates for issues that often get little attention.
“It’s a great place that provides opportunities and job skills for students,” Hill said. “They advocate for many issues that don’t get too much attention, such as food insecurity. Also, it feels great to give food to those in need.”
The Maryland Food Bank is a nonprofit hunger-relief organization whose mission is to lead the movement to end hunger throughout the state. With facilities in Baltimore, Salisbury and Hagerstown, the organization distributes over 100,000 meals per day and more than 37 million meals annually. Their network spans soup kitchens, pantries and schools which distribute food throughout 21 counties and Baltimore city.
In Maryland, 682,280 people — or one in nine Maryland residents — experience food insecurity, according to the Maryland Food Bank.
Even though Maryland is one of the wealthiest states in the country, some communities are still facing challenges with the cost of living and struggle to put food on the table. Thirty-three percent of people who are in the service-area of the food bank earn more than what the federal and state relief calls for eligibility. Thousands of Marylanders depend on food banks and other hunger-relief organizations to acquire basic necessities.
Hill also noted that First Fridays, which was a monthly community service event for Towson students, gained so much interest and popularity among students that OCESR expanded the program into TU Serves to make those volunteer opportunities possible on other days of the week.
Freshman Mikayla McCall has been involved in community service in the Towson community since she enrolled at TU.
“I participated in First Fridays and love community service,” McCall said. “It also gives me the chance to meet new people and make friends since we share a common interest. I just love it.”
Bethany Williams, also a freshman, believes food insecurity is an under-addressed topic and she feels passionate about community service.
“Community service is something that I’ve always been passionate about,” Williams said. “I’m a part of Tigers Serving Others, so I always enjoy it. Food insecurity is a topic that I don’t feel gets addressed enough, so I felt obligated to come here.”