The Maryland Food Bank was founded in 1979 as the first food bank on the East Coast. In its first year, the Maryland Food Bank distributed 400,000 pounds of food to 38 assistance sites in Baltimore City. In 1981, the Maryland Food Bank expanded its focus, opening a branch on the Eastern Shore to better serve some of Maryland’s most impoverished counties. During much of the 1980s, the food bank worked to establish a strong foundation as the state’s central hunger-relief organization, building partnerships with food retailers and working with large agencies to create regional redistribution centers.
Establishing An Identity
For most of the ’90s, the Maryland Food Bank focused on building up its network of partners, teaming up with soup kitchens, shelters, and faith-based organizations across the state to distribute food to hungry Marylanders. During this time, MFB took on the Second Helping initiative and forged partnerships with Harvest for the Hungry and a host of other prominent hunger-relief organizations.
In 2004, the Maryland Food Bank again expanded, transferring its headquarters from a 52,000 square-foot facility in Baltimore City to the current 93,000 square-foot warehouse in Baltimore County. With the increased space, the new facility has given the Maryland Food Bank the capacity to accept, store and ultimately distribute more food, growing its impact significantly. Its location, just miles from the city and sandwiched between two major highways, has also enabled more efficient distribution statewide.
In 2007, Deborah Flateman joined the Maryland Food Bank as President & CEO. During her tenure, the Maryland Food Bank conducted a hunger gap analysis, redefined its mission, developed a strategic five-year plan and implemented sweeping changes to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.
From 2008 to 2010, the Maryland Food Bank completed several capital improvements, including the expansion of the Eastern Shore branch’s freezer and the construction of the Charles T. Bauer Community Kitchen, a commercial-grade facility that allows us to reconstitute perishable foods into healthy frozen meals.
Forging a Hunger-Free Future
In 2012, the Maryland Food Bank expanded its reach westward, merging with Food Resources in Hagerstown, MD. Since then, the Maryland Food Bank – Western Branch has more than doubled the output of food into Western, MD, distributing about 5.9 million meals in FY 2015 becoming the leading anti-hunger organization in the state.
With more than 36 years under its belt, the Maryland Food Bank has built strong relationships with local businesses and receives food donations from a broad range of manufacturers, growers, retailers, wholesalers and individual communities statewide. Today, the Maryland Food Bank is the heart of Maryland’s food assistance structure, providing food to a network of more than 1,250 soup kitchens, pantries, shelters, and other community-based organizations across the state.
The Maryland Food Bank’s food distribution continues to increase every year, and the organization intends to expand its impact… until hunger ends.