'Farm to Food Bank' program addresses increasing food insecurity in Montgomery County

More and more families in Montgomery County need help with getting food. That’s why the county’s "Farm to Food Bank" program is investing thousands of dollars to make sure local farms can produce plenty of fresh food and feed those who are experiencing hunger.

The effort, which aims to provide more nutritious and culturally diverse produce to residents who experience hunger, is organized by Manna Food Center located in Gaithersburg, Maryland

As part of the "Farm to Food Bank" program, over $200,000 was recently invested in local farms to help support a sustained and resilient local food supply.

The Manna Food Center in Gaithersburg, MD distributes food to people in need at Catholic Community Service is Wheaton, MD, just outside Washington, DC. Manna distributes essential living supplies in Montgomery County, one of the 10 wealthiest countie

The program also has built up a grant program that offers up to $10,000 to farmers who then invest in their farming infrastructure so that they can help provide more food to the food insecure population of the county.

Officials from Manna Food Center say, despite Montgomery County being one of the wealthiest in the country, food insecurity is rising in several parts of the county.

"Yeah there is a lot wealth in the county but there is also a need and we have seen that need just increase over the last couple of years and not go down," says Jenna Umbriac, the Director of Programs at Manna Food Center. "We certainly saw a spike in the number of people who are coming to us and other food providers during the height of the pandemic I mean we were seeing six times the number of new participants."

FOX 5 spoke to a local farmer who takes part in the grant program, and says it has helped her tremendously.

"It rejuvenated me and it made me want to do more," said Marcey Gura-Matunhu of Chirandu Farm in Dickerson, Maryland. "When I see people lining up in long lines waiting for food, things that we take for granted, that has really impacted me in a way and going forward, we really want to produce more for this community."

Marcey tells FOX 5 that thanks to the grant, she is one of ten additional farmers, being added to the program.

She says her reward for participating in the "Farm to Food Bank" program is twofold – she gets to step up for her community all while demonstrating her success story of starting a business as a minority and an immigrant.

People in need receive donated food at the Manna Food Center in Gaithersburg, MD. Manna distributes food and essential living supplies to people in need in Montgomery County, one of the 10 wealthiest counties in the United States. Through education,

In addition to addressing the immediate food insecurity needs, Manna Food Center's "Farm to Food Bank" program also aims to provide nutritious and culturally appropriate for the individuals and families who come to them seeking food.