The Maryland Food Bank is purchasing more food through the holidays than ever before — a sign that residents in Baltimore and beyond are increasingly relying on food pantries for their daily meal, according to the nonprofit’s director.

“The dollars that we’re spending on buying food is about $20 million dollars this year. We were spending about $6 million pre-COVID-19,” Carmen Del Guercio said.

The amount of food being distributed to the nonprofit’s 1,200 pantries and assistance partners is also rising. Guercio said the uptick in demand, especially over the last five weeks, stems in part from a rise in food prices and subsiding government assistance. Dozens of states including Maryland ended COVID-era boosts to SNAP benefits in March. The year prior, federally enhanced child tax credits expired.

“There’s a number of government supports that were helping families deal,” he said. “The reality is many people we serve are working families who are just having a hard time making ends meet.”

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Data collected by the food bank showed the number of people searching for “charitable food” near them via Google rose by more than 60% this October when compared to last year, Guercio said.

For those in the Baltimore area still searching, we’ve compiled a list of some mutual aid events and food drives during the holiday season.

Baltimore City

The Baltimore Student Union — a group of students from across Baltimore City Public Schools — will be collecting food donations through Nov. 17 as part of an ongoing mutual aid campaign to assist students living in food deserts.

Anyone interested in participating in the Thanksgiving Food & Education for All Students Today initiative can drop off food at 343 N. Charles St., 1400 W. Cold Spring Lane (Baltimore Polytechnic Institute) and 1201 Cambria St. (Benjamin Franklin High School).

The food collected will be distributed Nov. 20 through Nov. 22 at 611 N. Eutaw St.

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The union reported they were most in need of canned beans, corn, yams, instant mashed potatoes, boxed mac and cheese, stuffing or gravy mix, crackers and nuts, according to a social media post.

Operation Ten City, a national faith-based philanthropic campaign manned in Baltimore by televangelist Bill Winston, will be holding its Heaven’s Pantry Drive-Thru Food Giveaway on Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. to noon.

Baltimoreans interested in participating can donate goods at 6000 Radecke Ave. or at Carver Vocational-Technical High School at 2201 Presstman St.

Anne Arundel County

Happy Helpers for the Homeless, a nonprofit organization, is looking for volunteers to help distribute food every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 2 p.m. throughout this month and next at the Harundale Presbyterian Church on 1020 Eastway in Glen Burnie.

There are also several turkey giveaways occurring across the region. Motocross star and Baltimore native Chino Braxton hosted one at the Shoppers parking lot in the Mondawmin Mall on Thursday. (Kirk McKoy/The Baltimore Banner)

Baltimore County

Happy Helpers will also be distributing food on Thanksgiving Day beginning at 10:30 a.m. at 1550 Caton Center Drive in Halethorpe.

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First Fruits Farm will distribute produce and holiday dinner boxes to 300 families as part of their annual Operation Holiday Blessings neighborhood project. The families can expect potatoes, cabbage, apples, a loaf of bread from H&S Bakery and other canned goods. Meals can be picked up Nov. 18 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Park Heights tennis courts (4721 Reisterstown Road).

Howard County

Free Thanksgiving food baskets will be available on Nov. 20 and 21. Interested residents can choose to pick up the food support project’s offerings at a variety of locations, including Columbia Baptist Fellowship in Oakland Mills, Deep Run Elementary in Elkridge, St. John Baptist Church in Long Reach, Perfect Generation Ministries in Ellicott City, St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Wilde Lake, Cornerstone Church in Kings Contrivance and Mt. Gregory United Methodist Church in Cooksville.

A map intended to help residents find affordable food ahead of the holiday season is also available on a subdivision of the Howard County Health Department’s website.

And for those interested in holding their own distribution event in the state, the Maryland Food Bank assists residents in setting up a virtual food drive.

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