The Food Project located out of a surplus school in SW Baltimore is a lifeline for the underserved in zip code 21223. While at times bodies literally lie in the street from murder or drug overdose, the youth are safely inside The Food Project being trained, mentored, and working. The youth are hired to cook and deliver over 500 hot meals a week and distribute tons of produce to the community each month. This has been a space that has supported countless grassroots initiatives, John Hopkins Public Health initiatives, site for Health Departments sessions/flu shots/ safe sex discussions, access points for IPV and homeless services and the collaborative effort of changing lives and inspiring youth to believe.
The Food Project has launched a social enterprise, Seedy Nutty, out of the kitchen which provides additional jobs and entrepreneurial experience. This process has been production certified and FDA approved out of this kitchen. Moving to another space would mean starting over again. These and many other services The Food Project provides are invaluable in this community where there is little else. The Food Project not only feeding the hungry, but also giving the youth of 21223 hope for a better life. The community will be devastated if The Food Project is taken from them. The youth said “they will have nothing if TFP leaves.”
If you believe in The Food Project's value and impact in this underserved community and it's ability to redefine the narrative of the youth on the streets please sign the petition and help push back on this!!!
U Empower of Maryland, Inc. (“U Empower”) is a 501(c)(3) that was formed in 2013. Our original purpose was to focus on providing assistance to low-income and underserved segments of at-risk residents of Baltimore City. This journey has taken U Empower from street outreach where we would serve 150 people out of the back of a truck in the poorest zip code in SW Baltimore to running our flagship program, The Food Project, with dinner service, after school programming and jobs, out of a surplus school in this same community.
From experiences learned by U Empower during this community outreach, we realized that food provides a vital entry point to support the residents. As a result, we utilize food access as a means to engage and interact with the community. Not only are we providing a much needed resource to a food insecure population, but it also allows us to create community bonds that allow U Empower to assess and provide additional support to the community. Our mission starts with the youth and tries to provide alternatives to the dangers of the streets. The program with which U Empower focuses these efforts is called The Food Project (“The Food Project” or “TFP”).
The Food Project serves out of a surplus school in SW Baltimore in one of the most underserved communities in Maryland. Our service area in 21223 is plagued by high unemployment, lower rates of high school completion on, high crime, and drug abuse with 39% of households in poverty and 32% in ALICE levels. These are all chronic problems that create significant barriers to its residents. We create opportunity for at risk youth to empower their community by preparing and delivering food to their seniors, vulnerable and food insecure during a pandemic. These youth are struggling and food insecure themselves and would otherwise be on the streets and drawn into crime. We work to help them redefine the narrative by giving them an option off the streets. Moving their hustle and grind into the kitchen where they can build a future.
The COVID-19 crisis has impacted our community especially with an increased need for food access and support for our economically disadvantaged families and seniors. The Food Project has modified our normal operations to serve the vulnerable during this crisis. Utilizing best practices guidelines as directed by state and federal authorities, The Food Project is utilizing our space, resources and volunteers to provide much needed food and meals to our community.
Through Sept 30th, 2020 The Food Project served over 15,000 meals and distributed over 330,000 lbs of food to the 21223 & 21229 community. The prepared meals are delivered directly to the vulnerable and food insecure each week. We also distribute essential items that include PPE at our popup markets. We have hired and trained 18 youth and 5 parents to help serve their community during this pandemic.
The Food Project hires the youth in the community to prepare and deliver healthy fresh meals each week. We currently deliver 530 total meals / wk under this program. In addition to providing nutritious meals, we will continue distributing an average of 1,000 protein and produce boxes per week at our popup markets and offer job training, mentorship and other life skills for the youth in the community. We currently have 27 youth and community members signed up for behavioral therapy.
Ascension's Saint Agnes Healthcare, Johns Hopkins University, House of Ruth, Baltimore Office of Sustainability, Mayor's Office of Children & Family Success w/ The Children's Cabinet, Baltimore City Health Department, Life Bridge, Orioles, Under Armour, Whole Foods Market, Radio One, States Attorney’s Office, For My Kidz, Conduit Partners Behavioral Health Services.