Local caterers, National Guard support Baltimore County with food distribution

By: Jade Fadrowski, Contributing Writer

Photo Courtesy of the Maryland National Guard Public Affairs Office

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced that Maryland Army National Guard troops will be distributing meals to more than 30 sites around the county to support families that may be facing food insecurity, as many have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. 

“These are neighbors from our communities here to help us in our time of need,” Olszewski said in a press release on the Baltimore County Government website. “We are so grateful for the Guard’s commitment as our County continues to respond to this unprecedented pandemic.”

Family sized grocery boxes and frozen pre-packed meals are being prepared by multiple Baltimore County caterers including Black & Gold Catering of Chartwells in Towson, Classic Catering in Owings Mills, Martin’s Caterers in Windsor Mill, Rouge Fine Catering in Hunt Valley, and Zeffert and Gold in Owings Mills.

“We had been working with the county for a few weeks prior to last week, when we provided the meals,” said Black & Gold Catering Director Jason Santos. “I reached out to some Baltimore County employees that I had worked with prior to all this to see if we could assist. We made the grocery boxes the week of March 30, provided food for the emergency operations center, etc. and that led to them asking us to provide meals for distribution last Saturday.”

The National Guard started weekday meal distribution April 10. Meals are available on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 4 to 6 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. Beginning April 11, the National Guard also started Saturday meal distribution with meals available starting at 11 a.m., also on a first-come, first-served basis.

“I think the county is right to help its citizens that may need assistance in this time,” Santos said. “So, being able to provide the most food efficiently as possible is certainly beneficial. Secondly, these meals have allowed Chartwells to employ associates that would have otherwise needed to be furloughed, so I see that as a community benefit as well.”

Within the past week, Baltimore County purchased 23,100 frozen, pre-packed meals to distribute to food insecure residents at the 30 sites across Baltimore County. 

“I think that the county should do all that they can to help the families who have been so greatly impacted by the pandemic,” said TU junior Hannah Cassell. “I cannot think of a better way to provide care and support than to help families with a basic human need, to feed their families.”

The sites for distribution were identified through data-analysis by Baltimore County and the National Guard based on prior meal distribution. Last month, Baltimore County was providing families with groceries at 11 weekend distribution sites.

As we receive new requests to support our civilian agencies, such as food distribution missions, it’s important for Marylanders to know that the Maryland National Guard has their back throughout this pandemic,” said 1st Lt. Jennifer Alston. “We take great pride in serving our Maryland communities. This is a neighbors-helping-neighbors situation. We’re in this together, we’ll get through this together.”

The National Guard is implementing protective measures at the distribution locations. According to Alston, guard members are provided with proper PPE and practice social distancing. 

Alston said they are screened at the facilities for symptoms before they go on duty and are “fully informed of the associated symptoms of COVID-19.” She also said that a self-reporting process is in place for the Maryland National Guard, if members need additional screening.

“Ensuring every County resident has enough to eat during this crisis is a top priority,” Olszewski said in a press release on the Baltimore County Government website. “Thanks to the Guard’s support, we can do even more for Baltimore County’s families and we’ll continue to work hand-in-hand to help provide food security, reduce the spread of the virus, and save lives.”

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on a first come, first served basis, meals are available from 4 to 6 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Cockeysville PAL Center
  • Dundalk PAL Center
  • Hillendale PAL Center
  • Mars Estates PAL Center
  • Scotts Branch PAL Center
  • Shady Spring PAL Center
  • Winfield PAL Center

On Saturdays starting at 11 a.m., meals are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis at the following locations: 

  • Arbutus Community Center
  • Bear Creek Elementary School
  • Cockeysville PAL Center
  • Colgate Elementary School
  • Dundalk PAL Center
  • Eastern Regional Park
  • Edgemere Elementary School
  • Edmondson Heights Elementary School
  • Fullerton Elementary School
  • Grange Elementary School
  • Halethorpe Elementary School
  • Hereford Senior Center
  • Hillcrest Elementary School
  • Hillendale PAL Center
  • Lansdowne Elementary School
  • Mars Estates PAL Center
  • Martin Boulevard Elementary School
  • Parkville High School
  • Perry Hall Elementary School
  • Randallstown Elementary School
  • Reisterstown Senior Center
  • Rogers Forge Elementary School
  • Scotts Branch PAL Center
  • Shady Spring PAL Center
  • Warren Elementary School
  • West Town Elementary School
  • Western Tech High School
  • Winfield PAL Center
  • Woodbridge Elementary School
  • Woodmoor PAL Center.

-Keri Luise contributed to this article.

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