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Organizations partner to help families have a Happy Thanksgiving

Deborah Bailey | 11/25/2016, 6 a.m.
Thanks to Hungry Harvest, Shop Rite and The Community Health Improvement team of the University of Maryland Medical Center, more ...
Mariellen Syan, Asunta Henry, Lauren Davis and Anne Williams with Community Health Improvement at the University of Maryland Medical Center prepare to distribute Thanksgiving donations to parents and families at Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School on Tuesday, November 22, 2016. Deborah Bailey

— Thanks to Hungry Harvest, Shop Rite and The Community Health Improvement team of the University of Maryland Medical Center, more than 100 families in West Baltimore will celebrate a happy, healthy Thanksgiving. Hungry Harvest donated the vegetables while Shop Rite donated turkeys to 100 families who are parents of children at Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School and James McHenry Elementary/Middle School.

“Our health initiative is about food access and we wanted to give our families in West Baltimore a healthier option for the holidays, said Asunta Henry, Community Health Advocate at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

“I actually met Will at a conference this year when we were just in the planning stages of doing this,” Henry said. “He immediately said, ‘we’re going to donate.’ I was so grateful for his donation to the effort. It really helped us get started.”

Henry is referring to Will McCabe, from Hungry Harvest, a non-profit organization that recovers produce from area retail outlets and other locations and resells the food at a reduced cost to customers throughout the Baltimore area weekly. For every paid delivery made by Hungry Harvest, the organization donates one to two pounds of produce.

Hungry Harvest is in the midst of expanding its partnerships with Baltimore City Public Schools to offer extremely discounted food boxes at area schools. So far, the organization runs weekly food box pick-ups for families at Franklin Park Elementary School, Frederick Douglass High School and Reginald F. Lewis High School. The organization is expected to launch additional school sites in East Baltimore in December.

“We are on a mission to reduce food waste and fight hunger. I can’t think of a better use of our time than to develop partnerships with Baltimore Public Schools where we can offer healthy food alternatives and show Baltimore families that eating healthy can be fun,” McCabe said.

Parents and school administrators were grateful for the effort to reach out and remember them at Thanksgiving.

“I’m just appreciative for all each of the sponsors and for bringing this together for the families here in the neighborhood,” said Terrance Ham who picked up a food basket from Samuel-Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School with Erika Scott.

Betty Adams, principal at Coleridge-Taylor said that the food donation is critical for many of her families.

“We have many families [who] will now have a Happy Thanksgiving because of the generosity of Hungry Harvest, Shop Rite and The University of Maryland Medical Center. Many of our families struggle to make ends meet. To have a turkey, vegetables and people in this community who care about our students and families sends a message of encouragement to our students,” Adams said.

Anne Williams, director, Community Health Improvement for the University of Maryland Medical Center says that the hospital is committed to West Baltimore and is investing in long-term engagement.

The medical center has a wide portfolio of community outreach programs and workforce development initiatives, as well as partnerships with four West Baltimore schools.

“We are committed to improving health outcomes, and we are doing the outreach that it takes to engage West Baltimore,” Williams said.