RIDGELY, MD –When you live in a rural community surrounded by farms that grow food, the idea that there are families right in your community who need food seems illogical. So when Trey Hill of Harborview Farms of Rock Hall learned that Saint Martin’s Ministries (SMM) of Ridgley was having a hard time keeping up with the demand for food in its pantry he brought together his team and people he knew in the agricultural community to create Project Protein, which is completing its first year.
Now Saint Martin’s Ministries says “thanks” to local volunteers and donors as the local agricultural community unites to complete the first year of Project Protein!
Project Protein is a monthly sponsorship program that has provided more than 250 Caroline County families with over 18,000 pounds of bulk chicken from Mountaire Farms. The way it works is that a business commits to a donation to SMM to cover the cost of purchasing the chicken. Hill and his team pick up the chicken from Mountaire Farms and deliver it to SMM food pantry for distribution to their clients.
For Hill, it is very much a united effort with the local agricultural community. “I am in a very fortunate position that I work with and do business with great people who were all alarmed by the fact that we live in an area that grows an abundance of food and yet we have people who are going hungry,” he says.
“When I mentioned this dilemma to my immediate Harborview team, I received a positive response and their support to use our agricultural connections to help these families in need. I then called twelve of the business partners that I work with and had each of them “sponsor” a month of chicken. Currently, the demand is just over 2,000 pounds per month and has been quite manageable given the great teamwork that exists within the community,” he adds.
In addition to Project Protein, the program has branched out to provide Thanksgiving dinner to 250 families with vegetables, fruit, bread and whole 6-pound roasters. Mountaire has agreed to provide Christmas dinner for 250 families as well.
For SMM the project is a great example of generous community response to a need. “Saint Martin’s is the place where the families who are struggling can go when they need help and hope,” says Deborah Hudson Vornbrock, executive director at SMM. “While we celebrate this season of giving, we want to say thank you to those who support Saint Martin’s 365 days of the year. Our volunteers, donors, and people like Trey Hill, his team at Harborview Farms, and the 12 businesses that committed to Project Protein are helping us make a difference in the community,” she adds.
Project Protein has already received commitments for sponsors for 2018. Hill is encouraged by the positive response. “The support from everyone has been overwhelming. I am very proud to be surrounded by such a compassionate and generous group of people,” he adds.
The 2017 sponsors include Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit of Chestertown, Willard’s Argi-Service of Worton, Air-Ag, LLC of Laurel, DE, AET of North East, Binkley & Hurst of Seaford, DE, Joe Hickman Farm Management of Chestertown, FAM & M Insurance of Chestertown, Crop Production Services, Inc. of Centreville, William Loller Farm of Rock Hall, Atlantic Tractor with a combined effort for their stores in Cecilton, Queen Anne, Chestertown, and Clayton, DE, Pioneer Seed of Rock Hall and Hoober of Middletown, DE.
Saint Martin’s Ministries (SMM) of Ridgely, MD, is a non-profit organization that has provided a safety net for individuals and families living in poverty for more than three decades. SMM’s mission is to help meet basic human needs for impoverished people on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, to respect and affirm their dignity, and to address the root problems that perpetuate the cycle of poverty. SMM provides an array of services through a single point of entry, with a dignified case management approach, to address immediate and long-term needs. Its four assistance programs are its Food Pantry, Homelessness Prevention, Transitional Shelter and Thrift Store.
To learn more about Project Protein, please contact Deborah Hudson Vornbrock at (410) 634-2537 x 102 or by email at DHVornbrock@StMartinsMinistries.org. You can also visit StMartinsMinistries online or connect with them on Facebook (St. Martin’s Ministries).