The Food Project, a nonprofit organization in Southwest Baltimore, creates opportunities for at-risk youth to empower their community by preparing and delivering food to vulnerable and food insecure seniors year-round. Many youths in the program are struggling with food insecurity themselves and without the help of The Food Project may look to alternative ways to make money. The Food Project works to help them redefine the narrative by giving them an option away from the streets and teaching them valuable skills where they can build a future.
This includes Quan, a young man who was experiencing food insecurity and started with The Food Project two years ago to help support himself and his family. He helped with the dinner food service for the community and helped coordinate a monthly pop-up restaurant where The Food Project participants would come up with the theme, menu and prepare the food, and then cover all the roles of running a restaurant. Quan shined behind the line and as a server. He was rewarded with a job opportunity at a local restaurant where his skills as a busser quickly landed him a promotion.
All of the customers and staff loved Quan. In order to keep the job, he needed reliable transportation. He was not able to acquire his driver’s license because he could not access his birth certificate and social security card and ultimately lost his job at the restaurant. This proved The Food Project’s need to create more jobs within the community out of their kitchen.
The Food Project created a snack called Seedy Nutty, which has been sold in local stores. Quan worked with the other youth to build the inventory prior to the initial COVID-19 shutdown. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, everything came to a standstill. Many of the program’s teens, including Quan, still had to support themselves, so they turned back to the streets. Not long after the shutdown, The Food Project learned that Quan was shot in the leg.
That was a wake-up call for Quan. He realized the consequences of his choices, and, with the support of a Food Project sponsor, he returned to work. Quan is now applying the skills he gained through training and mentorship at The Food Project in a part-time job at an outside business.
The Food Project serves out of a surplus school in Southwest Baltimore, in one of the most underserved communities in Maryland. Their service area is plagued by high crime and unemployment, lower rates of high school completion, and drug abuse, as 39 percent of households live in poverty and 32 percent live in ALICE* levels. These are all chronic problems that create significant barriers to its residents.
The COVID-19 crisis has impacted our community, especially with an increased need for food access and support for economically-disadvantaged families and seniors. The Food Project has modified their normal operations to serve the vulnerable during this crisis. Utilizing best practice guidelines as directed by state and federal authorities, The Food Project is utilizing its space, resources, and volunteers to provide much needed food and meals to our community.
The Food Project is committed to keeping these young people employed.
Every donation towards employment literally saves lives.
The Food Project is in need of $45,000 in funding so they can continue preparing and delivering healthy fresh meals each week. The money helps to cover food, packaging, youth labor, kitchen staff, and delivery costs. Currently, The Food Project delivers 530 total meals per week under this program. With this funding, The Food Project will be able to prepare and distribute for four additional months. In addition to providing nutritious meals, the Food Project will be able to continue distributing an average of 1,000 boxes of protein and produce each week at pop-up markets and will continue offering job training, mentorship, and other life skills for the youth in the community.
*“ALICE” – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed – Households with income above the official Federal Poverty Level but below the defined basic survival income level.