As we are all aware by now, the COVID-19 crisis has had a significant impact on everyone’s way of life. This is no less apparent than for the citizens of Howard County.
In the days leading up to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s executive orders to observe social distancing and closing down of non-essential businesses, Howard County REACT, in coordination with Howard County COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disaster) began planning and putting into effect several programs designed to protect Howard County citizens from food security issues.
Howard County REACT members (left to right): Mark Thornton, Josh Tievy, Joe Rehder, & David Perry pose with a small portion of the food handed out to low-income families at Ellicott City pop-up pantry
The first program is a delivery service designed to assist low-income and elderly citizens that cannot secure the food needed from normal delivery services. This is due to the large waiting list causing deliveries to be delayed by weeks. The service is fairly simple in which the person needing the delivery schedules a curbside pickup at the store, fills out a form on Howard County REACT’s website or hotline with all the proper information, and Howard County REACT members pick up the food at the store and deliver it. For more information about this program, please visit www.howardcountyreact.org/delivery.
Just a small portion of the food in the ERV we handed out at the first pop-up pantry in Ellicott City.
The second program is the placement of food collection bins for the Howard County Food Bank. Our members are tasked with placing these bins with several county grocery stores to provide a place for food and household items to be donated to the food bank. Once full, our members will collect the bins and deliver to the food bank for distribution to those in need.
ERV-1 parked in front of the Miller Branch of Howard County Public Library ready to hand out groceries for low-income families
And lastly, the third program involves Pop-Up Pantries for those who cannot afford groceries and cannot afford to travel to the Howard County Food Bank for provisions. Now in its second week, these pop-up pantries were placed in 3 different locations throughout the county with Howard County REACT assisting with the largest one in Ellicott City.
Another photo of ERV-1
The first pop-up pantry at the Ellicott City location fed over 950 people alone! As you can imagine, that is A LOT of food. While many volunteers brought their own vehicles to transport this food from the food bank to the pop-up pantry locations, this task was made much easier with Howard County REACT’s newly acquired ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle). The ERV is a retired Red Cross vehicle that was custom ordered to perform similar duties in a disaster. The ERV was donated by team President David Perry with plans to use it for a variety of functions including a mobile command unit for public service events and supply distribution operations just like the pop-up pantry.
So as you can see, it has been a busy month for Howard County REACT and with the crisis still ongoing, we plan on being very busy through the next couple months!