by Lisa Tome
Maryland's Food Bank currently feeds residents in North East and Port Deposit.
On March 20, that monthly food drop is coming to Perryville.
When Bay View Elementary started its monthly free food distribution a few years ago, Jenni Hammer and Shawn Johnson were the school's administrators. The pair, working with North East Elementary and social worker Kim Chiominto, brought a monthly after school hours food drop to the school in cooperation with the Maryland Food Bank.
Now, Johnson is principal at Perryville Middle and Hammer is principal at Perryville Elementary. Chiominto also works part time at Perryville Elementary.
"We decided to initiate the food distribution to support the Perryville area to facilitate access to important resources in western Cecil County. Since we are nestled in this small town, folks will be able to walk to either the middle or elementary school to receive fresh fruits, vegetables or other food," said Hammer. "We hope that the proximity will help those who may not have transportation to reach these distributions in other areas of the county. Once we establish our program, we hope to use the distribution as a chance for other agencies to be present and provide resources to any families who are in need."
The way the food distribution works is that individuals or families turn out. Social services and/or school staff take their name, number of people in the household, and a phone number in the event there is a recall on a food item.
There are no income requirements or documentation required for those getting the free food. Items recently given at a Cecil County food drop included potatoes, canned soup, arugula, grapes, mixed greens, canned collard greens and more.
"We're very fortunate to have a partnership with our social workers. I'm beyond excited that we're doing this. This is a great way to serve our community," said Johnson.
"We sit right in this town and if we do anything less than serve the community, we're not doing it right."
The food distribution will be staffed by volunteers from Perryville Middle's National Junior Honor Society and PTO and others.
The distribution will alternate between the two schools. March 20, it will be held from 4-5:30 p.m. at Perryville Middle. April 17 it will be held the same hours at Perryville Elementary. May 15 will be at Perryville Middle.
In Port Deposit, monthly food distributions are held at Port Deposit Presbyterian Church the second Thursday of each month.
In North East, the program alternates between Bay View and North East Elementary on the second Thursday of each month.