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Grocery Stores, Nonprofits Selected for Food Recovery Work Group

The program would take food that would otherwise be thrown away and redistribute to people in need.

A proposed "food recovery" program for Montgomery County that would redistribute would-be wasted food to people in need gained momentum Tuesday. The County Council approved a work group to study costs and logistics for the program, which Councilmember Valerie Ervin (D-Dist 5) proposed in October. She said the idea was inspired by the work of two University of Maryland students. 

Maryland's program, called the Food Recovery Network, collects unused food from events like football games and alumni parties, and redistributes the food to hungry people. The group has donated more than 30,000 meals.

The work group is made up of county government and school officials and representatives from local food banks, grocery store chains and nonprofits. Montgomery County native and co-founder of the Food Recovery Network Ben Simon was also appointed to the group. 

Hunger may be a growing problem in the county. Manna, the county's largest food distribution center, endorsed the program citing "continuing demand" for its services. A release from the council said that applications for public assistance are higher in Montgomery County than ever before. More students in the county are also receiving free and reduced meals at school than in the past.

“The food recovery initiative will not only help our area non-profit organizations who fight hunger, but should also reduce the amount of food that ends up in our waste stream,” said Ervin. “In my mind, this initiative is a win-win as those who donate food receive tax benefits and those in need receive healthy meals.” 

The group is tasked with creating a plan for how to implement food recovery in the county. Members will submit an interim report to the council no later than March 31 and a final report by July 1. 

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