QUEENSTOWN — With increased demands for its food pantries and overall services, Haven Ministries has relocated its food pantries from Stevensville and Centreville, along with its Centreville resource Center, to a new food pantry/resource center at 206 Del Rhodes Avenue in Queenstown. In May, the agency provided food items to 113 new people and distributed 25,765 pounds of food from its food pantries, representing a 10,000-pound increase in food. By streamlining its services, Haven Ministries is creating a more centralized location to provide services, improving efficiencies for its clients, staff, and volunteers.
“Our new location will be open daily for clients and will offer a store-style model for food selection. We are asking people to first call our resource center at 410-827-7194, however, to register with us,” said Krista Pettit, executive director of Haven Ministries.
Food will be set up in this new permanent location and restocked easily by volunteers. Instead of receiving a set box of food items, customers will be able to select their own food items twice a month, therefore, eliminating food waste.
“The other benefit to our new location is the ability to move our Centreville resource center to this site so that we can connect people to much-needed resources in one location. This will be an added efficiency and will hopefully reach more people in need,” Pettit added.
Haven Ministries has operated food pantries in two locations in Queen Anne’s County once a month. The first food pantry has operated at Safe Harbor Presbyterian Church in Stevensville since 2013. The second food pantry has operated at Centreville United Methodist Church in Centreville since 2018.
The consolidation of services is also enabling Haven Ministries to address the increased need for food in the Sudlersville area. On July 9, the organization hosted a pop-up food pantry at the former middle school in Sudlersville. Pettit said, “We hope to create a more permanent food pantry in Sudlersville in the future.”
According to Jennifer Small, Salisbury Director of the Maryland Food Bank, the Maryland Food Bank has been looking at the root causes of hunger in the state through a five-year strategic plan.
She said, “One of the solutions we are looking at is developing tools and partnerships to meet clients where they are. This would be a sort of ‘Super Pantry’ which in addition to food, would provide wrap-around resources and health care. When COVID-19 hit, we were unable to move this model forward.
“What Haven Ministries is doing in Queenstown fits the model we had envisioned. It will be wonderful to have a hub like this in Queen Anne’s County. We hope to see this best practice model in every county in Maryland in the future.”
Eric Johnson, emergency management planner for Queen Anne’s County, said the county’s Food Security Task Force, made up of the Department of Social Services, Haven Ministries, the Judy Center, Maryland Food Bank, Queen Anne’s County Public Schools, and Queen Anne’s County Office of Community Services, has been keeping track of the demand for food by ZIP code.
He said, “We have a plan in place which identifies food insecurity areas and gets food into the hands of the families who need it. The physical locations are important in meeting the needs by connecting people to the resources they need. Having a food pantry centrally located in Queenstown will serve a great need in the county. As resources are scarce everywhere, we are all doing more with less and the consolidation of services makes sense.”
“Even with COVID, we have been seeing a glimmer of strategic work that is helping families in different ways, so we can ultimately end hunger in our communities. A lot of greatness has come out of this crisis. How communities have rallied to support their own has been amazing,” Small said.
Johnson added, “We are looking at a new normal with the pandemic. We have to continue to work together to come up with creative solutions to meet people where they are.”
Haven Ministries, including the food pantry and resource center, is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. one day a week. Clients are encouraged to register first by calling 410-827-7194.
The resource center at the Fisher Manor Housing Development in Grasonville is open from 9 a.m. to noon on the second Saturday of each month. For more information, visit haven-ministries.org.