For many of us, Thanksgiving is a time of plenty: our tables overflow with an assortment of holiday dishes, we go back for seconds (and maybe even thirds) before declaring ourselves too full to move. But as the holiday approaches, it’s important to remember that there are people in our community who are not as fortunate. Leading the charge against hunger in the Tri-County area is Brenda DiCarlo, Director of the Southern Maryland Food Bank. We caught up with Brenda for this week’s Friday Focus, where she shared her organization’s story.
Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)
A: The Southern Maryland Food Bank has been serving the Tri-County area of Southern Maryland for 30 years and has been easing the pain of hunger since we began in 1983. We provide supportive services and bulk food to nearly 40 pantries, group homes, soup kitchens and shelters in our area. These sites rely on us for 50 to 100 percent of their weekly food supply, so that they can provide food to those experiencing food insecurity in their communities. We also provide SNACK Sak bags to 96 children in five St. Mary County Public Schools, who are living in crisis situations.
Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?
A: Our favorite bittersweet moment was recently when we distributed over 1 million pounds of food to the community during our 30th fiscal year. It was a milestone for such a small program, however, knowing that there was that much need in our community enlightened us as to how much more we still need to do to ease the pain of hunger.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: Our challenges are many. We are in constant need of food donations, financial donations to purchase food with or expand our services and staffing. We currently only have three people on staff (two full time and one part time) to service the entire Tri-County area.
Q: What advice can you give someone looking to work at a non-profit?
A: Always remember that we ourselves could easily be in the same situation as those we serve, so be kind and non-judgmental to those requesting services.
Q: How can people get involved this holiday season?
A: Food drives are a great way to get involved and to support those in need. You can also contact us or any pantry that may need extra help during the busy season of giving and receiving.
As you give thanks this year, remember to give back! You can support the Southern Maryland Food Bank by donating to their holiday food drive at our branches.