For the past 13 years, the infamous White Marlin Open has been making waves not only on the docks but in Maryland communities as well. And this year was so different. Over 1,600 pounds of fish was donated to the Maryland Food Bank after the week-long fishing tournament.
Weigh In Donations
Each fish that is brought into the scales during the White Marlin Open has the opportunity to be donated to the Maryland Food Bank at the discretion of the angler. More often than not, daily catches are donated resulting in monumental opportunities for families, which may not otherwise have access to high quality protein. The feeling of hearing an angler announce they will be donating their catch is “exhilarating! Anglers do not have to donate – it is their generosity that makes this event. They really believe in what we are doing, and are happy to help. We are very appreciative, and want to ensure the public knows how much of a difference these fish donations make.”
As fish are donated, people like Christina Pyle, of Catch-n-Carry, are waiting at the filet stations ready to cut and portion the fish. Pyle portions the fish into small 5 ounce pieces then flash freezes the filets that are then given to the Maryland Food Bank. From there, the fish is dispersed among the local pantries around Maryland.
This year’s donation of 1,600 pounds of fish from the White Marlin Open will help the need for food but may not last as long as it has in the past. The Maryland Food Bank, located here on the Eastern Shore in Salisbury, services thousands of people annually. And with the current prices of food increasing dramatically in the past year, the need is only rising. “The need for food assistance remains at historic levels, and we don’t expect that to change for a long time to come,” says the Maryland Food Bank. “The number of Marylanders relying on our network of food assistance partners surged by 30% between March and May 2022.” With Maryland’s cost of living being so high and the extra strain of inflation, families are still struggling.
However, the Maryland Food Bank doesn’t stop at providing donations through the food bank. They have extended their mission to schools as well. This past school year, the Maryland Food Bank graciously partnered with 40 schools right here on the Eastern Shore to help set up food pantries on site. The pantries are manned by school personnel and stocked with donations by the Maryland Food Bank. “We see the School Pantry Program as a powerful tool in addressing childhood hunger in any community because it works through schools – trusted institutions that are part of children’s everyday lives.”
FoodWorks and Work Force Development
In addition to partnering with schools to provide adequate meals to families, the Maryland Food Bank is also extending its outreach to literacy programs as well. “Our FoodWorks program provides intensive culinary training that prepares graduates for well-paying careers in the food industry.” By successfully providing students with appropriate knowledge, the program has expanded from their main facility in Halethorpe to new sites in Baltimore City (UA House) and on the Eastern Shore (Wor-Wic Community College). Sustained employment is the main goal of the program.
In addition to the FoodWorks program, a financial literary component has also been tacked on. This part is focused on “financial literacy programs, educational opportunities, and access to healthcare, as well as help finding clothing, furniture, and transportation assistance.” This additional component helps to tackle deeper issues and hopes to help to end hunger in Maryland communities.
How Can You Help?
If anyone is looking for a way to give to the Maryland Food Bank, there are several ways to make that happen. “We’re always looking for support in the form of food, funds, and volunteers. For those interested in donating food, we appreciate donations of the same nutrient-rich foods you’d buy your own family, including canned proteins (tuna, chicken, peanut butter), pasta, rice, canned fruits and vegetables, and breakfast items, just to name a few.” On the Eastern Shore, food can be dropped off at the Salisbury location located at 28500 Owens Branch Road, Salisbury, MD 21801 between the hours of 7:30-4pm, Monday- Friday. “If you’d like to donate online, visit www.mdfoodbank.org/ways-to-give/ to learn more about the different ways to get involved with our work.”
If you are in need of food, please go to our ‘Find Food’ webpage at www.mdfoodbank.org to find a partner near you.