Verona, Virginia and La Plata, Maryland
By Lis O'Brien June 21, 2020
Dating back to 1892, Balford Farms is located in Burlington, New Jersey and serves as a food distribution company specializing in dairy products throughout the Northeast. Typically, Balford Farms services a wide range of business verticals, including cafés, hotels, hospitals, restaurants, supermarkets, and universities. However, the pandemic significantly reduced the amount of produce needed by many of these places. A connection was thus formed, linking 5,952 gallons of 1% milk from Balford Farms to Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and Lifestyles of Maryland Inc.
Located in Verona, Virginia, Blue Ridge Area Food Bank received 1,728 gallons from Balford Farms while Lifestyles of Maryland, located in La Plata, Maryland, received the other 4,224 gallons. Each month, Blue Ridge distributes food to over 103,500 people through an extensive network of 200 food pantries, soup kitchens, schools, churches and other nonprofit groups. Lifestyles of Maryland serves low income residents as well as indigenous tribes, such as the Piscataway Conoy tribe in Charles County, Maryland. Prior to COVID-19, the organization served about 25 families a day, whereas now they serve closer to 133 families per day.
With increased unemployment and job vulnerability, the Director at Lifestyles of Maryland, Sandy Washington, told The Farmlink Project: “We have seen a significant increase in those requesting services, people that have never asked for food before are in need.” She further stated that the milk that The Farmlink Project helped connect has been distributed throughout Charles County to “families in the most rural areas that don’t have transportation or running water, to the more urban communities with senior citizens and families with children trying to make ends meet.”
The pandemic has placed strain on all people and places, but especially upon those experiencing food insecurity. The Farmlink Project is working to alleviate this burden through each connection made between farms and food banks around the country. Sandy expressed one of the many reasons why The Farmlink Project works so hard to make these connections. She articulated that: “The looks on the faces of those receiving this milk says it all. Yet to see people waiting in line to receive milk brings tears to my eyes. The ability to provide through The Farmlink Project lifts my spirit.”
Moving forward, The Farmlink Project has plans to deliver more milk to both Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and Lifestyles of Maryland Inc.