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4,000 Free Meals

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The nonprofit Feed Howard County, born during the COVID-19 pandemic, has delivered more than 4,000 meals and has worked with more than a dozen local restaurants.

And the need for food among our neighbors persists.

Photo courtesy Feed Howard County.

Founded by Pat Curran, Kevin Powell, and Debra Reese – all members of First Presbyterian Church of Howard County – the effort has grown larger than any of its creators predicted.

The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation now serves as a fiscal sponsor, and Feed Howard County works with Community Organizations Active in Disaster to help determine which families are most food insecure.

Curran, who sold his business in 2015, was looking for ways to get more involved in the community.

“The idea is simple,” he said. “We pay restaurants across Howard County to prepare meals and we keep people fed and keep restaurant employees working.”

Curran also wants more involvement from local businesspeople, who can serve as sponsors for one or more nights of meals or as volunteers handing out food.

Typically, Feed Howard County purchases 150 meals, then delivers them to a preset location. Individuals and families pick up the meals without having to fill out any kind of form, Curran said, which shows respect for their privacy and dignity.

“We don’t ask questions when people come for the meals,” he said.

Now, as the pandemic wears on, Feed Howard County faces growing needs with wintertime approaching.

“It’s time for businesses to step up and help people who need meals – and help keep our beloved local restaurants open, too,” said Curran.

Powell, owner of Total Impressions Marketing, said, “We think businesses will like the idea of helping those most in need while, at the same time, helping local restaurants keep afloat.”

Lance Cook, owner of Tino’s Italian Bistro & Wine Bar and majority owner of The Periodic Table, is a Feed Howard County partner.

“Tino’s Italian Bistro has had the privilege of partnering with Feed Howard County multiple times over the past several months,” said Cook. “The Feed Howard County team has been professional and organized and a great organization to work with.”

Cook said, “It has truly been a win-win-win, feeding and giving back to the community while supporting an independently owned restaurant and its employees during these challenging times. We could not ask for better partners!”

Joshua Lennon, president of Absolutely Perfect Catering, became a partner with Feed Howard County in May.

“Working with Feed Howard County has been a great opportunity both for the people it serves and the businesses that it supports, said Lennon. “Like many restaurants and food service providers, we have seen over a 50 percent decrease in our business due to the coronavirus. Every dollar helps keep the lights on and our staff employed.”

Reese handles many behind-the-scenes logistics, balancing her volunteer efforts for Feed Howard County with a full-time job as a project director for Magellan Health.

She said that the number of meals delivered each week depends on how many donations come in.

“We have a policy that, as fast as we have the money, we spend it on meals,” she said. “If we get a large donation, we’ll deliver meals for three or four nights in one week. Otherwise, we can’t schedule that week – and that breaks my heart.”

Reese estimates that, currently, Feed Howard County is able to deliver meals one night per week. “We can hand out 150 meals in nine minutes,” she said. “It demonstrates the need when the meals go that quickly.”

She suggested businesses donate funds and work as volunteers to hand out meals – a meaningful team-building activity.

“It’s an hour of your time,” she said. “That includes setting up the tables and handing out the meals.”

By Susan Kim | Staff Writer | The Business Monthly | November 2020 Issue

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