Montgomery Co. councilmember request $200K for food recovery program

Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin wants $200,000 to be allocated to a new food recovery program in 2014.

At the Manna Food Center in Gaithersburg, Minerva Delgado says they're helping to feed more than 160 families in the county a day and more than 3,300 families a month.

"So all of this food you see here we got from donations," Delgado pointed out.

Manna relies mostly on charity to help feed the more than 70,000 families living below the poverty line.

Delgado said, "Folks who come here are really struggling to make ends meet."

But she adds a slow economy means fewer donations. Now she's working to build a county food recover program. The program will gather over abundant food supplies from restaurant and grocery stores and give it to places like Manna instead of throwing it out.

"For us to be relying on one or two food sources is really not a good long term strategy," Delgado continued.

But the program would be costly. A recent report says launching the program would cost up to $200,000. Ervin, a Democrat representing District 5, requested the money be added to next year's budget.

"I think $200,000 is not a lot of money, but it's seed money to get the program up and running," Ervin explained.

The funding would go to hiring staff and connecting different organizations. Back at Manna, they say despite the cost, the program is critical. In a tough economy, they're hoping to expand their food sources.

Delgado said, "This is a way we can rescue more food in the future and ensure that in the long haul we'll have enough food for those that require it."

But county councilmember-at-large George Levanthal's office said they're weighing the cost-benefit before jumping in the ensure the cost for tax payers doesn't outweigh the potential gain for local non-profits and residents.