End Hunger in Charles County has partnered with Barnes Builders and other organizations to build cabanas that will be placed around the county serving food and toiletries to families and individuals in need, according to the organization.
The cabanas are being constructed in response to the coronavirus pandemic to expand outreach to needy members of the community.
End Hunger, a nonprofit organization formed three years ago to help the “food insecure,” currently plans to construct and place 10 cabanas around the county at different locations, with the first one being placed Monday in the parking lot of New Hope Church of God in Waldorf. The other locations will be the Mt. Hope Church in Nanjemoy, Village Green Park in Indian Head, Willing Helpers Hall and the Dorchester Community Center in La Plata and the Cobb Island and Newburg Volunteer Fire Departments in Newburg. Two locations have not been confirmed, according to Deborah Carrington, recording secretary for End Hunger and community liaison for LifeStyles of Maryland Inc.
Carrington said the idea to construct the cabanas was formed from volunteers who work with End Hunger.
Along with non-perishable food and toiletry items, the cabanas will also be stocked with information about End Hunger and extra resources, according to Carrington. She said that LifeStyles’ extensive volunteer network will be working at the cabanas in one hour shifts from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, once all are placed and active.
“Volunteers would be on site to ask that they only take one bag of food and one toiletry bag per person, and they will be replenished as needed every day,” Carrington said. “When all 10 are in place, we look to do about 3,500 total bags per week — we’re utilizing all volunteers and LifeStyles staff members.”
Carrington said that the items will come from donations of food pantries and individual purchases. The volunteers putting the bags together will be using gloves and washing their hands after each bag is assembled, while the volunteers that are on site will maintain a six-foot distance from people who come to pick the bags up, according to Carrington.
Carrington said that End Hunger and LifeStyles do not have the ability to screen every person that arrives to see whether or not they are food insecure and they are not going to ask how many people are in a household. End Hunger plans to limit the number of bags given out per family.
“We assume they need it if they are going to come pick it up,” Carrington said. “If you weren’t in need, would you come get one? Probably not. Everybody is in a challenging time with layoffs and job loss so if you need it, come get it.”
Carrington said that the organizations are working in accordance with Charles County Public Schools, who have identified certain families that face transportation challenges and are unable to make regular trips for groceries. These families will be contacted and food will be delivered to them without any physical contact. Gift cards for different local businesses will be given out as well, and donations are going to be accepted in all forms.
At the placing of the first cabana Monday, Rev. Thirkel Freeman, pastor of True Gospel Church and chairman of the board of directors for End Hunger, said that the organization is remaining consistent with its past broad demonstrations to achieve their objective, even amidst a national crisis. Freeman said that End Hunger volunteers are taking extra precautions to minimize risk, such as wearing masks and gloves and maintaining a six-foot distance at all times.
“We hope that our example here will be an example to others, protect yourself, wash your hands, and do as we are instructed to do during this virus,” Freeman said. “This is something we are dealing with where we are in uncharted territories, never before we have dealt with anything of this sort.”
Freeman said that additional measures are being taken to make sure the needs of senior members of the community are being met.
“We are doing the best we can to help people amidst this crisis, we are willing to come out here and take a risk to help someone else,” Freeman said.
Aaron Jones, pastor of New Hope Church of God in Waldorf, said that New Hope has partnered with End Hunger since its inception nearly three years ago, and New Hope has provided food and clothing to disadvantaged members of the community for over 11 years.
“We are just trying to fulfill the word of God and help people during a time like this,” Jones said. “This is where we need to be right now to help people and to reach out to people, someone has to be on the front lines to help.”
Freeman said more information can be found on the Facebook page End Hunger, as well as on their website www.endhungerincharles.org. Freeman also credited LifeStyles of Maryland Executive Director Sandy Washington for the efforts, saying that her organization spearheads everything being done to serve needy members of the community.
“[Washington] is sitting behind the scenes right now, but she is making a lot of things happen,” Freeman said. “She is a trailblazer so we take our orders from her, she is the engine that drives this organization.”
“As New Hope Church of God, we are just happy to partner with End Hunger because they are doing a great job in providing this service to the community,” Jones said. “As long as it’s needed, we want to be in partnership and connection to end hunger the best way we know how.”
End Hunger’s website states that over 12,000 Charles County residents live in poverty, while over 17,500 residents live with food insecurity, over 15% of which are children. Along with providing food to the needy, the organization also promotes and supports educational opportunities that lend to healthy and nutritious food choices.
End Hunger also partners with the Charles County Sheriff’s Office, the Charles County Department of Social Services, Chef Kendall/Middleton Hall, the Maryland State Beverage Association and other members of the faith community.