MontCo Anti-Hunger Network hosted 4th annual conference

On May 18th, over 80 people gathered for a day of conversation, learning and sharing in the 4th annual conference for emergency food providers in Montgomery County.

The theme of this year's conference was "Better Together," a rallying cry several speakers asked attendees to repeat throughout the day.

Administrator for the MontCo Anti-Hunger Network (MAHN) Paula Schafer and MAHN Governing Board member Stu Bush (also Executive Director for The Open Link) gave an update on the activities of the MAHN in the past year. Highlights include a new Freightliner van, awarded to the MAHN by Philabundance. With this vehicle, more food can be shared between pantries, helping even out inventory across the county.

County Commissioners Valerie Arkoosh and Ken Lawrence both offered up their experiences in dealing with hunger. Commissioner Arkoosh, a physician, has seen the health effects of hunger first hand. Several months earlier, Commissioner Lawrence took the SNAP Challenge for a week, during which he could only eat $4.50 worth of food per day, or the average amount of benefits a SNAP recipient receives. Both praised the MAHN and encouraged them to continue to improve the systems for those in need in the county.

Several pantries hosted breakout sessions to discuss common challenges and "game changers" in managing a pantry such as creative line management, a co-op type model and inventory software, among others.

An update on the progress of the 2018 Farm Bill was given by Emma Kornetsky of Philabundance, who also presented their just released Advocacy Toolkit.

Manna on Main Street primiered a video on their Common Grounds Training culinary program, which featured real and stark stories of county residents and program participants fighting to secure a job with life-sustaining wages.

The day ended with HealthSpark Senior Program Officer Tamela Luce looking back on the last four years on all that has been accomplished and congratulated them on their successes.