THE FOOD PROJECT SUMMER 2022 ACTION UPDATE:
Meals Delivered, The Grind Opens, Slow Paychecks Challenge
Here we are over midway through the summer, and I wanted to take this opportunity to give you an update on The Food Project. So far this year we have hired 60 at risk youth to prepare and package 11,200 home delivered meals and distribute over 112,000 pounds of produce at our weekly popup markets in Southwest Baltimore.
In addition to feeding the community and creating jobs, we have been empowering the youth leaders at our new workforce development hub across the street called The Grind. Bottomline — supporting The Food Project is not only Good for You, but Good for Baltimore.
This past Thursday, the youth opened the Grind, a pop-up restaurant and market. All of the food is prepared and served by the youth. Located in a once abandoned fellowship hall of a nearby church, our ongoing renovation of the building has brightened the corner of Pulaski and Ashton Street. In addition to food, the youth entrepreneurs have various items for sale such as T-shirts, healthy beverages and products.
We envision The Grind becoming a true hub of local food preparation, growing and distribution in a place where few restaurants exist. More, our young entrepreneurs are already creating businesses lines in clothing, wigs and cosmetic goods, health, vending, home repair and more. It is a major step in the growth of our program, and we want you to know about it and be connected.
We invite you to join every Thursday evening starting August 25th at The Grind (349 S. Pulaski Street) from 4pm to 8pm. You may order in advance by calling (443) 937-3585. Financial donations are always welcome for this exciting food security, training, and community service project.
HIRING NEW YOUTH
There are always more youth looking for work than we can hire, so in April, The Food Project had the opportunity to partner with the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office to effectively hire 15 at risk youth for 6 months. Many of the youth are from the streets, some homeless and almost all are without the documents needed to get jobs elsewhere. For the youth – the program provides for up to 35 hours per week for them to receive training, education, and preparation for a career track.
This program is not only great for the youth hired, but gives Baltimore an opportunity to solve a major problem. Through this program the youth struggling to survive are given a positive alternative to the streets. The first accomplishment was to get them all their documentation to be hired. That took 2-6 weeks for the youth. After being hired we helped some youth get housing and transportation. Next, we focused on continued education needed and a career path for the youth.
But the biggest unforeseen hurdle was the youth’s direct payments through The City of Baltimore’s Payroll department. They have experienced a significant problem in providing paychecks on a consistent and regular basis. Many of our youth missed paychecks for as long as 5 weeks which put them at risk for being late on rent and other bills. WBAL got involved to help hold the city accountable and as a result all our youth received their paychecks. View WBAL’s report on the The Food Project Youth’s importance of jobs here.
Delayed paychecks from a City Grant reminded me of the importance of support from individual donors like you. The Food Project will always find ways to earn money for kids through social enterprises. We will compete for grant support. But the donations of individuals, families and groups will ensure that we have the financial strength to sustain and grow our critical work.
Creating Great Value – How You Can Help
It costs The Food Project approximately $4,000 to get a kid off the streets and into our program. Many of these youth are looking for ways out, but without the alternatives, they have no choice but to continue what they know. This is a smart investment that pays untold dividends in the lives of children, families and neighborhoods in need.
You can help us provide a step up and out of the streets by providing a donation to UEmpower of Maryland, Inc. If you would like to discuss other ways to help as a volunteer I can be reached any time on my cell at 443-690-1694 or email me at mYou are also welcome to drop in and see what the youth are creating at The Food Project and The Grind. Please let me know when you would like to visit, and we can schedule that at your convenience.