FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jen Adach, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 986-2200 x3018; Sarah Shepard-Kneip, 410-231-1380
Maryland Hunger Solutions Sponsoring Food Stamp Challenge to Take Place September 19 - 25
Legislators, Students and State Leaders among the 160+ Marylanders Taking the Challenge
Baltimore, Md. – September 19, 2011 – More than 160 people are joining Maryland Hunger Solutions Director Cathy Demeroto in taking the Food Stamp Challenge during the week of September 19 - 25. Participants in the Challenge pledge to use the average food stamp benefit – $30 a week in Maryland – as their total budget for groceries for the week.
People from across the state will be taking the challenge, including Senator Jamie Raskin (Montgomery County); Delegates Mary Washington (Baltimore City), Shane Robinson (Montgomery County), and Alfred Carr (Montgomery County); Rosemary King Johnston, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office for Children; Michael Lachance, Legislative Liaison for the Maryland State Department of Aging; Hank Greenberg, AARP State Director for Maryland; and Bill McCarthy, Executive Director of Catholic Charities in Baltimore. More than 40 students from the University of Maryland – College Park also are taking the challenge, and blogging about their experiences. A full list of Challenge takers is available on Maryland Hunger Solutions’ website.
The Challenge kicked off with a series of events today, starting with a shopping trip at Santoni’s in Baltimore, Maryland. Johnston, Lachance, Demeroto, and Greenberg shopped together for groceries for their challenge week, and hosted a brown bag luncheon at Maryland Hunger Solutions’ office to discuss the Challenge and pose solutions to hunger in the state.
“While living on a food stamp budget for just a week cannot come close to the struggles encountered by low-income families week after week and month after month, it does provide those who take the Challenge with a new perspective and greater understanding,” said Demeroto. “We hope to shed a light on the challenges facing many in our state and the need to provide for the needs of low-income Marylanders.”
“Hunger is a fact of life for many older Americans. Over 17 staff members from AARP are participating in this challenge as a way to increase awareness of food insecurity affecting many Marylanders as well as the millions of older Americans nationwide,” said Greenberg.
"One in eight Marylanders struggles with hunger. Programs like food stamps are incredibly important for those struggling and a key ingredient in helping Maryland achieve its goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015," said Johnston. "All of the nutrition programs - food stamps, school meals, and afterschool and summer food - are a critical part of the safety net, providing access to food that supports healthy children and families. That's why I am taking the challenge - to raise awareness of the incredibly important role that programs like food stamps play."
Food stamps (known in Maryland as the Food Supplement Program) serve as a critical resource by helping millions of low-income people purchase needed food each month. Eligibility is based on income and assets depending on household size. In July 2011, 688,816 Maryland residents received Food Supplement Program benefits, a 17 percent increase over the previous year.
Demeroto, Greenberg and others taking the Challenge will be documenting their experiences on Maryland Hunger Solutions’ Challenge Diary.
# # #
Maryland Hunger Solutions is the lead research, public education, and advocacy group in Maryland, dedicated to using public programs to end hunger in Maryland. Maryland Hunger Solutions is an initiative of the Food Research and Action Center.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.