Food Systems for Health

Partnership Leads to Expansion of Food Pantry in West Baltimore

November 28, 2023

The YMCA in Baltimore’s Druid Hill neighborhood serves over 680,000 pounds of fresh produce to the community that is often classified as one of the unhealthiest zip codes in the country. Their program works to address high levels of food insecurity in the community exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

With funding from the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, Dr. Julia Wolfson partnered with the Druid Hill YMCA to:  

1.     Develop and conduct cooking demonstrations to increase familiarity with the foods provided and increase cooking confidence;  

2.     Expand the reach of the food pantry; and  

3.     Evaluate the cooking demonstration program to inform the expansion of cooking skills education paired with food distribution initiatives at the Y in Maryland.   

The YMCA used the findings from this project to plan their food and nutrition-based programming. They created a new position to run the food pantry and other community-based programs to increase food access in the community. They also plan to expand the demonstrations beyond the walls of the Y and use the approach piloted here in other community outreach events. 

The research team created a technical assistance guide and evaluation for the YMCA. They also provided an implementation guide and FAQ for dissemination to other YMCAs and community groups seeking to implement a similar program.  

The YMCA also worked with students from Dr. Wolfson’s class to develop additional programmatic elements and plans to expand their work with the pantry and the food and nutrition programs they offer their community.  

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