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$1M in Grants Help MD Groups Address COVID-19 Impact

The Capital Area Food Bank in Maryland is receiving a $400,000 grant this month. (Capital Area Food Bank)
The Capital Area Food Bank in Maryland is receiving a $400,000 grant this month. (Capital Area Food Bank)
July 13, 2020

BALTIMORE -- Spurred by concern for supporting underserved communities battling the impact of COVID-19, UnitedHealthcare awarded $1 million to Maryland organizations to help the state's most vulnerable populations get through the pandemic.

Eight community-based groups, including a food bank, a women's shelter and a behavioral health facility, are receiving funding that should have significant impact on people's health, according to Kathlyn Wee, CEO of the UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Maryland. She said the pandemic presents unprecedented challenges in the state.

"The pandemic's really exacerbated health care disparities in communities across the country, but specifically here in Maryland, since we are one of the early states to really experience increase in COVID infections," Wee said. "So it's all the more important for us to support these types of organizations."

Wee said food access was a major concern for her organization. That's why Prince George's County's Capital Area Food Bank, which serves a predominantly Black community that's been hit hard by the virus, will receive $400,000 to offer curbside grocery delivery in food-desert areas in the county.

The second-largest award - of a $150,000 - was awarded to Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland to address food insecurity among seniors.

Wee said another lead issue is preventing domestic violence. The House of Ruth women's shelter in Baltimore will receive $100,000 to create a support group for women who have experienced violence in their homes.

"That's another priority area across these organizations that we are supporting: nutrition and food access, violence prevention, behavioral-health services - just the wide range of supports that are needed more today than they ever have been before," she said.

U.S. News and World Report ranked Maryland the wealthiest state in the nation, yet federal statistics have shown 1 in 4 people in the state goes hungry every day.

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Diane Bernard, Public News Service - MD