At the Frederick Rescue Mission Thursday, local food banks met to receive $5,000 from the Ausherman Family Foundation.
It was the start of F.O.O.D. or the Frederick Organizations Optimizing Distribution program, an effort to streamline food distribution during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Without COVID, we meet with these food banks every quarter anyway,” said Arnold Farlow, executive director of the Frederick Rescue Mission. “So basically we’re getting better organized and doing more collaboration to make sure that no one in Frederick is hungry.”
Farlow said when COVID-19 started, people wanted to help those in need. But those individuals or groups weren’t necessarily distributing food in the places that needed it most.
For example, pop-up groups would go to Mullinix Park, which is located between two of the largest food banks in the city.
"A lot of people were getting food that were already getting food and then a lot of folks weren't getting any food," he said.
Multiple community organizations, including the Ausherman Family Foundation, The Community Foundation of Frederick County, United Way of Frederick County and the Community Action Agency began discussions about how to get food to the people who needed it.
Farlow said the Ausherman Family Foundation is committed to helping people in need and wanted to make sure that areas in Frederick County were getting food, too.
“[The Ausherman Family Foundation] wanted us to take the lead on it and so as a result we tag teamed with Ausherman and made sure each of these food banks got $5,000 apiece,” Farlow said, adding that relationships already exist between the food banks.
The foundation donated $50,000, with $10,000 going to the Rescue Mission and $5,000 to eight local food banks that had a need.
Farlow said the Ausherman Family Foundation was a major contributor to the George L. Shields Bread of Life Kitchen at the Rescue Mission and is involved in many things in the community.
“Because of folks like them, we have a great community,” he said.
The Rescue Mission is already a redistribution center for the Maryland Food Bank, which means that when food is delivered from the Maryland Food Bank, the Mission distributes it to other agencies in the county who help people in need.
F.O.O.D will be broken down in three categories. The first will be food banks or food partners and there will be quarterly meetings.
"What we're going to do is find those who've got the ability to get food to people and match it up with people who need the food," Farlow said.
The second category will be food pantries such as those who have a food inventory in a church or library.
“We want to connect with those folks and find out where they are, make sure they’ve got what they need,” Farlow said.
And the third level will be pop-ups such as youth groups. Farlow said the Rescue Mission can help coordinate where it would be best for the pop up to be set up so that food can be distributed where it needs to be.
“Frederick’s a very generous, very kind community” Farlow said.
But there are people that are struggling. Farlow said food insecurity issues already existed in Frederick County and COVID-19 exacerbated the problem.
“If you can get your food needs met, that gives you more bandwidth to meet the other needs you need to take care of,” he said. "There's a whole lot of folks that really want to serve, that really want to make a difference and we'd like to be able to help them take that passion, take that desire and help them place it where it will make a difference, where it will help."