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Press Releases

For Immediate Release: Friday, June 7, 2024

Montgomery County’s Office of Food Systems Resilience (OFSR), Manna Food Center (Manna) and the Morningstar Foundation have awarded more than $350,000 in funding to 14 nonprofit food assistance organizations and Montgomery County-based farm partners to support the purchase and installation of cold storage infrastructure that will build the capacity of the local food system and food security network.

These investments will support the safe storage of locally grown and/or recovered food that is distributed to residents experiencing food insecurity through Farm to Food Bank partnerships and County-based food recovery rescue efforts. In 2023, more than 1,375,000 pounds of food were recovered and more than 195,000 pounds of food grown or produced by local farm partners were donated or sold to the local food assistance network. Expanding cold storage capacity in the County will ensure that this large volume of food can contribute to local food security initiatives and be prevented from entering the waste stream.

The County provided $200,000 for this grant program through Special Appropriation 24-37 introduced by County Executive Elrich and passed unanimously by the County Council in December 2023. An additional $30,000 was provided through an existing contract partnership with Manna Food Center, which is administering the funds.  The Morningstar Foundation contributed $122,568 to support the Foundation’s goal of providing healthy food access in underserved communities throughout the Washington, D.C. region. 

“These grants represent the power of collaboration between the public and private sectors to fortify our community's resilience," said County Executive Marc Elrich. "Ensuring that nutritious food reaches those in need while championing local food production and sustainability is key to ensuring our community capacity.”

The special appropriation allocated more than $11 million to support the creation and implementation of the grant programs and fund additional strategies that correlate with the Strategic Plan to End Childhood Hunger.

“Expanding infrastructure for food storage and distribution is key to many priorities, including increasing nutrition security, reducing food waste, and supporting local food production and economic opportunity," said Heather Bruskin, OFSR director. "These grants highlight the value of partnership between the public and private sectors to strategically leverage resources to strengthen the resilience of our community both for today and in preparation for future challenges.”

The organizations that received funding and their associated projects:

  • AfriThrive, Inc - Refrigerated trailer to streamline farm-to-distribution channels, reduce food waste and cater to dietary needs of African immigrant families.
  • Beauty Blooms Farm - Cold storage van that will double annual production .
  • Charles Koiner Center for Urban Farming - Walk-in cooler at community school farm to support production, food sharing and education in a low-income and low food access community.
  • Chicken of the Woods Permaculture Farm - Walk-in refrigerator to support aggregation for grown and recovered food in the Darnestown area.
  • Chirandu Farm, LLC - Walk-in cooler that will be available to nearby farmers and increase harvest capacity to be shared with multiple food assistance providers.
  • Community FarmShare - Refrigerated truck for transport to and from aggregation facility and a mobile “FARMacy” to increase produce access to schools and local safety-net clinics.
  • KPC Buddhist Relief - Commercial refrigeration to extend the shelf-life of purchased and organization-grown products for food assistance.
  • Meals on Wheels of Takoma Park/Silver Spring – New commercial cold storage to support use of donated and recovered food in meals delivered to homebound residents,
  • One Acre Farm, LLC - Shared cold storage to allow for better organization of harvest, reduction of food waste and enhanced collaboration with food assistance partners.
  • Sandy Spring Gardens - Shared access cold storage to support aggregation for retail sales, facilitate food recovery and support a faith-based food assistance provider.
  • Shepherd’s Table - Service and upgrades to existing walk-in cooler to support the provision of over 180,000 free hot meals made with local and recovered ingredients.
  • So What Else, Inc - Forty cold storage containers to maintain the safety of recovered food shared with over 5,000 County residents per week.
  • The Salvation Army Montgomery County Corps - Shelving and equipment for walk-in refrigeration to support food assistance to County children and seniors.
  • The UpCounty Hub, Inc. - Two new freezers and new refrigerator to store recovered food for distribution through the Choice Pantry.

Manna Food Center is the central food security organization in Montgomery County, dedicated to eradicating hunger through food distribution, education and advocacy. Manna envisions a community where every individual has dignified access to safe, nutritious food. For more on what Manna does, visit

The Morningstar Foundation is a private family foundation primarily dedicated to strengthening the Jewish community in the Greater Washington, D.C. area.

The mission of the Office of Food Systems Resilience is to develop and implement interagency budgetary, regulatory and operational strategies to build a more equitable, efficient, resilient and sustainable food system in Montgomery County. The office defines “resilience” as the capability of individuals, communities and the County to withstand and rapidly recover from food systems disruptions, stresses and changes. The vision of the OFSR is to create a community where all residents can obtain healthy, nutritious and culturally appropriate foods without fear of financial stress and a local food system that is able to adapt when facing changes and disruptions. Visit their website for more information.

The OFSR is leading the implementation of a variety of additional programs to bolster food access and affordability for households in Montgomery County to build the capacity of our local food system in alignment with the Strategic Plan to End Childhood Hunger. For more information about these programs, contact Catherine Nardi, at [email protected]

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Release ID: 24-265
Media Contact: Catherine Nardi
Categories: Grants, Health