Guest blog by: Giuliana Sciuto, Montgomery County Food Council
As the development and meal coordinator for the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH), Naira Hirz can tell you firsthand how much food is needed to feed the hungry people at their facility daily. She stresses the need for food, especially in the men’s shelter which doesn’t have a kitchen and therefore relies on volunteers to bring in cooked meals. Otherwise they must spend limited funding to feed the 80 to 200 people living in their facilities on any given day.
Naira is an active member of the Food Recovery Working Group (FRWG), one of five working groups of the Montgomery County Food Council. The FRWG advises on the development and implementation of Community Food Rescue, a new system that Naira points to as a huge help to our community to redistribute rescued food to those who need it most.
Community Food Rescue creates a network of food donors (restaurants, caterers, and venues that donate excess foods), food runners (volunteers who pick up the food from the donor and deliver it to the recipient), and food recipients (local hunger relief agencies) so that no food goes to waste and, more importantly, that people don’t go hungry. Naira mentions that there “needs to be a system to make donors and recipients both comfortable” when giving and using donated food. She believes Community Food Rescue as a system is absolutely the right direction.
Currently, the MCCH shelter hosts 80 men, but in November and continuing through March during the harshest weather, it grows to feed 200 men. Naira stresses the “need for food, especially cooked meals” in Montgomery County shelters. Last year, 90,000 meals were donated to her specific shelter, which only covered 70% of the meals needed at MCCH. Naira hopes to see the community come together and provide meals for those that need it most, which would enable MCCH to allocate more of its funds for counseling, housing, and various other services to support those within the shelters.
Naira says that her most rewarding experience with the Food Council and Community Food Rescue has been “learning about the community’s commitment to reducing food that is wasted. From feeding humans, to animals, to feeding the Earth with compost” not a single scrap of food goes to waste and not a single person goes hungry. She says she is “hoping for a day where there are no hungry people and 100% of the meals received by the shelter are donated.”
For information regarding MCCH meal donations, visit http://www.mcch.net/howtohelp/mealprogram.html