Bridging the Gap Between Producers and Neighbors in Need with Amy Cawley, Maryland Food Bank

 
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Show Notes

In this episode, we chat with Amy Cawley, the Farm to Food Bank Coordinator for the Maryland Food Bank, and learn ways to support Hunger Action Month in September. Hear how Amy transitioned her career from exercise science and education, to agriculture and local produce.

Links for resources referenced in this episode: 

Email acawley@mdfoodbank.org to sign up for volunteer opportunities in your area today..

Amy Cawley, Maryland Food Bank

Episode Transcript

Katie Ward:

Welcome back to the Farm Credit AgVocates podcast. I'm your host, Katie Ward, the marketing specialist here at MidAtlantic Farm Credit. I'm so excited to introduce today's guests to you guys, Amy Cawley, the Farm to Food Bank Coordinator for the Maryland Food Bank. She serves as a liaison between growers and the food bank securing fresh edible produce with an extensive background in agriculture and a passion for service. Amy has helped to procure over 8 million pounds of produce from farmers on the Eastern shore of Maryland alone. She realized her love for local produce over 24 summers of working at Clayton Farms and assisting her parents with their Christmas tree farm, both located in Denton, Maryland. We're very happy to have you join us today, Amy.

Amy Cawley:

 Thanks for having me. It's a pleasure to be on here.

Katie Ward:  

I've had the pleasure of knowing you and your family for many years, growing up in Denton, Maryland. And I know that you've got really deep roots in agriculture.

Can you take us back to where it all started for you?

Amy Cawley:

Sure. I would say Ag runs deep in Cawley blood. I don't know how else to put it. My late grandfather was Mr. Wayne A. Cawley. He was a grain farmer when my dad was a child, they had hogs and steers. He was a banker in the town of Denton. And then from 1979 - 1991, he was actually Maryland Secretary of Agriculture. So I've got some pretty big shoes to fill when you look at that aspect. And then my father is Charlie Cawley. He is also a grain farmer. I had to get out of it for a little while with the high interest rates in the eighties. Now he's since gotten back into it. He has about 70 acres that he farms around his house and grain corn and soybeans. And then he has about 12 acres of Christmas trees.

When I was 16, I took my first job at a produce farm, Clayton Farms, which is a local produce stand. They are wholesale and retail. That's where I learned a lot about produce from what's grown in the fields to what it's in season, when it's out of season, how to harvest it, how long it lasts. So I took that at 16. I went off to college and dad kind of encouraged me to get away from the farm. Said the farm would always be there if I ever wanted to come back. So I went way to college in Gaffney, South Carolina got a bachelor of science in physical education teacher certification and got a masters in exercise, sports science. I ended up teaching for seven years at a private all girls high school and Winston Salem. I wasn't a 100% happy there.

Then I went to a Garden Webb University, taught there for two years, and that was a temporary teaching position. And from 2010 to 2011, I had six years of education, nine years of teaching experience and could not find a full time job. So I ended up moving back home and not knowing what was going to happen at that point in time, which leads into your second question.

What led me to work at the Maryland Food Bank? My sister in law was going through a program called Lead Maryland. It's an agricultural leadership development program two years and she had traveled to Baltimore. And so 2011 in April, they visited the Maryland Food Bank in Baltimore. And they were talking to her group about how they wanted to start getting donations of produce from Maryland farmers. So I had come home for Easter in April of 2011 and she was telling me about it. And I said, Hannah, that that would be a great program. Having again, worked at Clayton Farms for so many years, I had seen that there's produce that gets left in the field, not intentionally, it's just the nature of the business. So when I got done doing all my odds and ends jobs in North Carolina, I moved home in May of 2011. And Hannah said that the position was still available. She gave me the name of number of a guy named George Butch Langenfelder. He goes by Butch and he traveled over to Denton and interviewed me at mom and dad's house. And here we are nine years later and I'm still with the Maryland Food Bank.

Katie Ward:

Wow, talk about good timing.

Amy Cawley:

Yeah. 2010 to 2011 was probably the most depressing year of my life, not having a full time job. And when I was going through that, I thought I'm not going to sit on the couch. I'm not going to take any unemployment or anything. I'm going to go do what I can. So I worked a bunch of jobs from Adjunct at Salem College in Winston, Salem, teaching some classes there and you get, I don't know, maybe a thousand dollars for a three hour credit course to overseeing the fitness center to helping to coach the basketball team to driving the high school athletics around to working at the produce section of the fresh market. It was a tough year, but in retrospect, at all prepared me for the Maryland Food Bank. Because like you said, the timing was impeccable, so it all worked out great.

Katie Ward: 

Wow. You were definitely busy.

Amy Cawley:

That’s for sure.

Katie Ward:

You also participated in the LEAD Maryland program, is that correct?

Amy Cawley:

I did. So I got the job with the Maryland Food Bank in June of 2011 and I went down to the Farm Bureau convention and Butch was with me and he introduced me to Debbie Stanley at the time that was her last name. And she's one of the program directors for LEAD Maryland. And we talked about it and then I think the next class was to start in 2013. So I applied for it and got accepted. And I ended up doing that for two years, which was really, really beneficial for me at the Maryland Food Bank, because having been away from Maryland for 16 years, I really didn't know how much in my eyes agriculture had changed while I was away. Now, when I was a kid, dad put all his eggs in the grain farming business, so to speak and that didn't work out too well. And so to see how much farmers have to diversify now across the state to make ends meet was eye opening for me. And of course it opened a lot of doors with, with knowing people across the state and that helps with food bank as well. And it also really helped my confidence being new back to Maryland. So LEAD Maryland's been tremendous in my life and I can never thank them enough.

Katie Ward:

 I could not agree with you more. I'm currently in class 11 with LEAD Maryland and with working at MidAtlantic Farm Credit, I have a lot of connections, but this has really opened the door to me for a lot of other opportunity in the agriculture industry, as far as being able to help out and get involved.

Amy Cawley:

Yeah. It just lets you know, what's going on in other areas and get you out of your little bubble for a while.

Katie Ward:

Exactly.

Can you give our listeners a little bit more background on your current position as Farm to Food Bank Coordinator?

Amy Cawley:

Sure. So when I was hired with the Maryland Food Bank, I really didn't know much about the Maryland Food Bank. The Maryland Food Bank is a nonprofit organization working to feed hungry people all across the state of Maryland. We cover every County except for Prince George's and Montgomery County. Not because we don't like them, but because the Capital Area Food Bank has that territory, right. We have three branches. Baltimore is our big facility. Then we have a site in Salisbury and a smaller site out in Hagerstown. So we work with a network of partners to provide food to those in need all across the state. With the exception of the two counties I previously named. My role in all of that is to source produce for the Maryland Food Bank, Baltimore Salisbury and Hagerstown.

 I do that in a, in a number of ways. One farmers will contact me when they have excess on hand. It may be a cantaloupe for example, that's leftover from the weekend and the stand didn't sell as many as they thought they would. So we'll go to that farm on Monday and pick up, you know, the excess cantaloupes or corn or whatever it may be. So they donate excess. Number two, a way farm to food bank works is that I go into farmer's fields and gets a glean produce that's being left behind in the fields. I didn't know what gleaning was when I took this job with the food bank. You can first find the gleaning term mentioned in the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament. If anybody wants to check that out, but basically we're going in a farmer's fields. I use volunteers and/or Maryland State Department of Corrections Pre-release inmates. I have not been able to use them this year because they're not allowed out with COVID, but I do supervise them when they can come out to, to get produce that’s going to waste in farmer's field. So we glean cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, sweetcorn, quite a bit of sweet corn. We do some tomatoes, cantaloupes, sweet potatoes. We've done some fall squash. We do some apples, peaches. We did plumes one time. And then one time we did these things called aronia Berry. So that's the most strange thing I've ever gleaned. And then the third way to farm the food bank program works for the Maryland Food Bank. Is that it, when we have money I'm able to purchase produce from Maryland farmers. So farmers are raising food for profit. They're not raising the food for it to sit in the field. We can't rely 100% on donations. So this buying power really helps us ensure a more steady flow of Maryland grown produce into the Maryland Food Bank. So that's my three main ways of getting produce into the food bank.

One of the common questions I get, is what do I do in the off season when it's, when the produce isn't coming in?  I'm always looking for new farmers. I'm always looking for new volunteers, educating and promoting the Maryland Food Bank and formed a food bank program. There's a tax credit program in Maryland. Now it's in its second year. So I keep track of donations and submit that paperwork to the Maryland department of Ag. So the farmer can take advantage of those tax credits and then I do whatever else is needed. When, when COVID hit, I found myself commuting to Baltimore twice a week to help out over there and marketplace to help facilitate produce. For example, we have a local hydroponic tomato farm here, and we have local hydroponic lettuce operation here in Caroline County. And, and when they call out, I'll generally go pick up that produce and take it to our partners, our partners and partners are our churches, neighborhood service center or St. Vincent DePaul schools. And then the last thing I guess I do, or maybe not the last thing, but one of the other things I do is give talks like what we're doing right now. Sometimes the food bank has me write blogs that they post on their website. And then I'm very active, I think I am on my personal social media, Facebook page to promote what farmers and volunteers are doing across the state of Maryland.

Katie Ward:

Speaking of your social media, I love following all of your From the Field video series.

Can you give a little background on how [From the Field video series] started?

Amy Cawley:

I'm not exactly sure how that whole thing started. I may have done a video or something last year. I think last year in a red potato field, I was so excited with what was going on with, with Black Gold Farms having planted those three acres of potatoes and the volunteer response to come out and harvest those potatoes that I just did a quick video instead of pictures and a post. So the food bank this year, the marketing department asked me if there was anything I could do video wise from farms across the state. And I think about Black Golden Potatoes they raised, a guy in Baltimore County who raised sweet corn for the food bank and down in Southern Maryland,  Swan Farms who raised sweet corn for the Maryland Food Bank.

It's just a collaboration with the marketing department. So I give them some video footage for them to use as they need it. And sometimes when I feel brave, I'll post those on my own Facebook page. I don't really like seeing myself in video.

Katie Ward:

Yeah, no, I completely understand that. And I've seen them on YouTube as well, I believe.

Amy Cawley:

Oh, so yes, we do have a YouTube channel and they did send out a videographer last year and did a video with Steve up at Mason Farms Produce in Centerville. So yeah, sometimes they get real professional.

Katie Ward:

 I think they're a great way to connect with the public and give a little more background onto how the food at the food bank actually arrives.

Amy Cawley:

It’s fun, but like I said, I just don’t like seeing myself personally in video, but I’m glad to hear people like you enjoy them.

Katie Ward:

Yes, definitely. So I heard you mentioned a minute ago about how some of your job entails working with partners and you mentioned local schools.

Can you talk a little bit more about how the food bank and your role with the program helps out with schools?

Amy Cawley:

Well, with the schools, it's more shelf stable products, I guess you could say. So they don't necessarily get a lot of the fresh produce from the Farm-to-Food Bank program. There's backpack programs like here in Caroline County, they have volunteers that pack items into these black plastic bags for the kids. There's shelf stable milk. There was some cereal, crackers, soups, Mac and cheese, peanut butter. Those things go into those bags. But when you're talking about produce, it's hard to put those into the backpack program. Now I did take some watermelons a few weeks ago to think it was called the Empowerment Center in Cambridge. I think that's where there were some students they're learning and they all came out and grabbed a watermelon and they were going to take it home. And, and that was really cool because I don't necessarily work with the partners. There's other people in the Maryland Food Bank who that's their job is to get the orders out to the partners. But when it's a short turnaround time, you know, I do that. And to see those kids grab those watermelons was really, really cool. That's what it's all about is getting the food to those in need.

Katie Ward:

So nine seasons with the food bank, I'm sure you've got a lot of really great memories and your position allows you to really serve, which is your passion.

 So do you have a favorite memory of working there so far?

Amy Cawley:

One thing that always sticks out in my mind was back in 2014, I worked with, with a local farmer and he won't want to be identified, but he had watermelons and there was no market really in 2014 for watermelons. Farmers couldn't really give them away.  I worked with the Maryland Department of Corrections pre-release inmates almost every day, Monday through Friday. And those guys gleaned about 450,000 pounds of watermelons from this one farmer back in 2014. And one of my main goals every year with the Maryland Food Bank from Eastern shore farmers is to get a million pounds of produce. And so I was getting ready to go to a LEAD Maryland seminar. And that morning we hit the million pound mark with those watermelons, that's always a highlight. But I tell you, Katie, every gleaning that we have on farmers’ fields, I just always leave feeling so jacked up, like to see the kids out there. I had an 18 month old girl. This always sticks out in my mind that came out about five or six years ago, sitting in the middle of the cucumber field. Just not go in, not knowing what's going on. And then there's a thing she's six or seven now and, and has been gleaning and cucumber since.

Katie Ward:

Wow, that's awesome.

Amy Cawley:

Seeing the community come together and seeing the farmers like the other day, for example, it's September and I know one of the things you want to talk about as Hunger Action Month, this guy, this farmer, is a grain farmer up in Baltimore County. He won't want to be identified either. I'll call him Farmer Glenn. We won't use his last name, but Farmer Glenn raises corn, wheat, soybeans and some green beans. And he contacted me back in April or May and wanted to know if there was anything he could do for the Maryland Food Bank and was thinking about raising sweetcorn. And I said, Farmer Glenn that would be great. And so just this past Tuesday, I had at least 30 people come out. He had 22 rows planted and 30 or so people came out and harvested that sweet corn and packed it in a banana boxes. And then we took it over to the Reisterstown Community Crisis Center. So I mean, how can you not be jacked up after something like that? So those things always leave you feeling good.

Katie Ward:

I definitely understand. And I know I helped glean last fall. I believe it was pumpkin's over at University of Maryland’s Wye Research Farm in Queenstown. You know pumpkins are a little heavier, kind of on the same line as watermelon, as far as weight. So it's really neat when the total numbers come in later that evening or the next day and to realize the little impact that one person can have. But when the whole team of volunteers comes out together and I believe those pumpkins were going to, was it an elementary school for the kids to paint?

Amy Cawley:

I think there was a school in Cambridge that one of them, some pumpkins and then a Frederick Rescue Mission, I would assume Frederick County, and they always look for four to six bins of pumpkins. So some of them went out there. So yeah, the produce, they could come off the Eastern shore, but it could still go statewide or vice versa, come off the Western shore and come over here.

Katie Ward:

And then are there any opportunities coming up within the next two months for volunteers to glean? I'm sure you've got a lot of fall vegetables coming up too.

Amy Cawley:

I think I've got September 21st or September 28th is a Monday. The Baltimore Country Club has these old Apple trees on their golf course that they don't want to take out because of their age. They still produce apples. So one of those two days we will go there. I'll be looking for volunteers, maybe a dozen or so volunteers to help clean those apples. I've got a retired doctor in Stevensville. I think you might've been there too, Katie. He’s got a beautiful residence overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. He has maybe a half acre of apple trees that we'll gean. I don't have any dates set for that, but there'll usually be in the evenings. I think the date to serve starts maybe September 11th and then it goes into October. And I think Maryland usually gives 4 hour’s paid volunteer time. So there'll be some opportunities there in Stevensville to glean apples. And then I'm hoping that the Wye Research and Education Center again, will have some pumpkins that they can let us go in and clean and get out statewide.

Katie Ward:

That's so cool that there are people who are willing to let the food bank come and glean their produce, even though it's not traditional.

Amy Cawley:

This year with COVID, I've had a number of people would just with their backyard gardens wanting to donate produce. So what I tried to do is go on our website and click the fine food tab and find partners local to them that they can take their produce to. So yes, it doesn't have to be a big, large scale farmer for Maryland. It can be a backyard person or a doctor or a golf course who knew.

Katie Ward:

Yeah, that's amazing. I love hearing stories like that. And at the end of the podcast, we will make sure that we cover how to volunteer and how to be alerted when Amy's got some gleaning opportunities in your area.

So you mentioned the Hunger Action Month is in September. This is pretty timely. So if you want to go ahead and let our listeners know what Hunger Action Month is and how the Maryland Food Bank supports that.

Amy Cawley:

Hunger Action Month occurs every September of the year. It goes just like it says all month long, and it encourages people to get involved and learn about the food insecurity that's going on in your area. I didn't talk about that in the beginning, but food insecurity basically means that people don't know where their next meal is going to come from, or they don't have the funds to sustain healthy, nutritious meals. So Hunger Action Month,  we really try to get that out on our social media channels and, and talk to our stakeholders or statewide leaders, talk to our partners and, and do what we can to get that word out, to let folks know that, that there are so many food insecure.

Before COVID, I think over 600,000 were food insecure. But since COVID, I think the number has spiked to over a million. So getting some of those things out on social media is important. We used to do some things with larger groups, but with COVID, I haven't seen any of those events scheduled. I think we used to work with the Maryland State Police, for example, and State Highway Administration to do food drives. COVID has shut that stuff down, but ways people can get involved in September with helping fight food insecurity across our state or wherever your listeners are: They can go to their food bank organization, in our case, its MDfoodbank.org and you can make a donation online or mail a check. We have a better purchasing power than any of us have listening to this podcast. $1 at the Maryland Food Bank can provide three meals.

Other ways people can get involved during Hunger Action Month is to volunteer. You know, we've got the warehouse in Baltimore, we've got the Farm-to-Food Bank program. We've got a branch down in Salisbury. There's a branch out in Hagerstown. If you're not close to any of those three places, you can go to our website and click on that fine food tab and find partners near you where you could potentially volunteer. You could host use our website to host a virtual food drive to help get food to the Maryland Food Bank. Donations are down significantly right now at the Maryland Food Bank. Individuals could share our social media posts, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We have a YouTube channel. LinkedIn; share those to get the word out. I mean, there's a, you can do that just from the comfort of your own chair at home or couch. And then just advocate. I think one of the focuses of this podcast is to advocate or AGvocate. In this case, we are going to advocate for the Maryland Food Bank and tell officials about hunger and, and how we need more funding for the SNAP Program. And we need to help the military family. So just to advocate for the Maryland Food Bank, as much as you can.

Katie Ward:

Yes, 100%. And I know, like you said, COVID did have a huge impact in everyone's lives, no matter what way you look at it. And unfortunately with hunger kids don't have as much access to food if they're not in school. So it is more important this year than ever to help support the food bank and to show awareness for Hunger Action Month in any way you can.

Amy Cawley:

So with COVID, the need for food increased dramatically. We went from having to spend not as much money to spend a tremendous amount of money monthly. For example, July saw 140% uptick in just the number of pounds of food that we distributed and a 432% increase in the amount of money we spent. So if you look at July, 2019, the numbers that we were emailed, we spent 508,000 in food purchases in July, 2019, fast forward to July, 2020. And we've spent 2.7 million on food.

Katie Ward:

Yeah. Big difference. And I know you mentioned earlier that you don't have access to some of the Maryland State Inmates for gleaning because of COVID.

So are there any other ways that the pandemic has impacted the food bank?

Amy Cawley:

Well, just the financially it's put a tremendous financial burden on us. And from our partner’s standpoint, as some partners closed down for fear of COVID and trying to prevent the spread of it. So the partners that did stay open, you know, if you think about people getting food, usually you picture people standing in line. Well, we had to eliminate that because the lines are so long and they probably go for a mile or more literally with 200-300 families coming through. So we've had to shift from a lot of people standing in line and going into the church or partner to having mobile distributions where the people stay in their car, the volunteer of course with masks gloves; the client opens their trunk or tailgate of their truck, and we put the food in the trunk or the bed of the truck. So our food distribution model has had to shift because of COVID. So financial burden and the method of distribution have both been affected.

Katie Ward:

Yeah. But it seems like it's kind of never ending.

Amy Cawley:

My boss, my supervisor, I just met with him the other day. He said, you know, when you go through a natural disaster or something of that effect, you can usually see an end in sight, but COVID, they said, we've been going through this for five or six months and there's just no end in sight. So we need money more than ever. So like I said, a dollar provides three meals, so people can give $5 and that's 15 meals for the Maryland Food Bank.

Katie Ward:

I think a lot of people are kind of starting to embrace that this is a new normal. So it's something that we might unfortunately have to get used to.

If we were putting COVID aside and just wanting to talk about the food bank in general, maybe pre-COVID, what other challenges have you faced, especially in your role as the Farm-to-Food Bank Coordinator?

Amy Cawley:

So I can't purchase produce without funds to do so. Thankfully we've gotten funding from the State of Maryland to be able to purchase produce, and we also get some grants. So funding is always a challenge with any aspect or any program within the Maryland Food Bank. But when you're talking about produce some of the challenges I face, I would say, as far as gleanings notification is short, it may be 24 hours or it may be the morning of that a farmer wants me to get into his field. So then short notice notifications is a challenge. And then in turn, getting volunteers to show up on short notification, and then you've got to get the logistics worked out quickly with getting the truck to the farm, to pick up the produce. We don't ask farmers to take their produce to the Maryland Food Bank. Farmers are too busy. I try to make it as simple as possible. So getting the produce from the farm to the Maryland Food Bank and then from the Maryland Food Bank to those in need, that's the challenge.

If you're talking about farming and any farmer, listen to this podcast, they know that weather is a challenge every year. This summer went from hot and dry in July to, it seems like it rains one to three inches every day, somewhere. We just got to three inches last night. So Mother Nature’s a challenge every year.

Katie Ward:

Sounds like you all face similar challenges to all the regions farmers in our area.

Amy Cawley:

Correct. What's good for one farmer is not good for another three inches of rain may be good for the grain farmer, but the watermelon farmers crying, because now he's got the diseases come through the field and wipe out his watermelons. One watermelon farmer started late this season and ended early. And it's just frustrating. Usually he's ending now at Labor Day and he ended two weeks ago.

Katie Ward:

Yeah. It's definitely been a crazy summer and weather aspects, including a little bit more back into your background with working at Clayton Farms and with your family's business.

Do you still work there now or are you strictly with the food bank?

Amy Cawley:

Strictly with the Maryland Food Bank. Now I tried to work out at the produce farm as much as I could for a while on the weekends, but it just got too hectic. So I gave that up. I do because produce slows down going into the Christmas season and Thanksgiving that I am able to help dad with selling Christmas trees and making wreaths and trying to keep his Facebook page going and trying to email our webmaster guy updates on what we need on the website. I try to help dad as much as I can on the Christmas tree farm.

Katie Ward:

Yeah. I have memories as a kid going there and that's where we would get our family tree from.

Amy Cawley:

So I think our slogan has experienced the family tradition because as kids now, I'm the oldest of three, I've got two younger brothers and for a while I was the tallest. So we'd always get a tree that was my height. We definitely have lots of fond memories of picking out the family Christmas tree. So it's nice that dad does that. There's a lot of challenges with raising Christmas trees, but the end result of, of seeing the family go home with a tree that makes them happy is very rewarding.

Katie Ward:

And I know as well, your busy season with the food bank is also the same busy season as most of the farmers and especially Clayton's Farm Produce, so it makes sense that it would just be way too much. But it sounds like that's where you really got your passion and love for local produce.

Amy Cawley:

Yes. One of my best friend in high school, her mom would give me a hard time about working out at Clayton Farms – “Why are you working at that produce farm? That's not going to help you do anything in life.”  And now I just kind of laugh because I think I was there for 24 summers, which is crazy to believe.  I told them they need to give me a gold watch for working there for so long. Never got it, but definitely, owe Linda out there a tremendous amount, you know, just to thank her so much for what she told me taught me out in the field and for taking me out in the field. When I was 16, I was shy and quiet. Would have jumped through the roof when you said boo. So I'm thankful that they didn't get rid of me at such a young age and kept me around for a long time because, without a doubt, my experience at Clayton Farms prepared me for this job that I 100% love and will keep doing. As long as the Maryland Food Bank will have me. And as long as my aging back will let me do what I do.

Katie Ward:

That's awesome. And I think you're a true Testament to the fact that what you study in school and what your first job may be out of college doesn't necessarily have to define your career.

Amy Cawley:

Yeah. And it's funny. I used to, I say that often, Katie, my phys-ed teacher in college, the professor rather, he'd say, you know, you'll probably change jobs five times in your career. And I thought this guy is nuts. I'm going to school to be a teacher. Why would I leave teaching? But you know, I think things work out as they're supposed to. I think Jenny said on a previous podcast, things happen for a reason. So I couldn't find a job for a reason. It was all in God's hands. And you know, that experience in 2010 to 2011, when I couldn't find a full time job was totally preparing me also for the Maryland Food Bank, because I used to think why don't these lazy people just get off the couch and go get a job. I got off the couch, I went and got a job. I could not support myself working all those part time jobs. And without that experience, I wouldn't appreciate the work of the Maryland Food Bank like I do now.

 Most of us are a paycheck away from struggle and accident away and illness away. And we take things for granted. So we're here when, when things, when life may not go as well and to help pick the pieces back up so people can move forward.

Katie Ward:

It's very important for the food bank and all of its employees and volunteers to not only realize that, but to make sure that they keep providing for those in need, especially now with Hunger Action Month.

Amy Cawley:

Correct. Yep. And anything anybody can do would be appreciated.

Katie Ward:

Well, one final question that we like to end all of our podcasts with, is

what do you advocate for in agriculture?

Amy Cawley:

AGvocate - So I work for the Maryland Food Bank, the Maryland Food Bank doesn't know a whole lot about farming. So I would say in my nine years with the food bank, I've always AGvocated for produce farmers and the struggles that they face from Mother Nature, the growing seasons when things are in season. So just an advocate for produce farming in general. And advocating for the farmer, when we're purchasing produce and making sure that they're getting paid because they're working so hard and then getting their product in and out of the door fast. And then advocating for healthy food for consumers, I would say are things I fight for.  And then as a side note, my grandfather, Wayne Cawley helped start the Maryland Ag Education Foundation. And I always ask my friends if they don't have an ag tag, why they don't have an ag tag. And then of course, you know, you heard me advocate a little bit earlier for Lead Maryland and how great of a program that is. And advocate for live Christmas trees.

Katie Ward:

 Yes, that’s a lot of advocating you’ve got going on there.

Amy Cawley:

Oh, thanks, I try. I use social media as best I can. I am definitely not as good as some people I follow, but do the best I can to get through that to.

Katie Ward:

 You've got a great following, so speaking of social media, you can find the Maryland Food Bank on Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube @MarylandFoodBank. And you can find them on Instagram and Twitter at @MDFoodBank. And if you go online to MDfood bank.org, you can learn more about the food bank and you can sign up for volunteer information while you're on that subject.

Amy Cawley:

One of the questions you asked me earlier was how people could get involved with they want you on the farm with the gleaning. They can send me an email if they want to be on, on my personal email list. I list volunteers by County so they can shoot me an email with where, what county they live in, for the listeners here in Maryland at ACAWLEY@mdfoodbank.org, they can sign up as a volunteer through MD food bank.org/volunteer, click on volunteer in Baltimore. And that will actually list the farm to feed bank gleaning opportunities. And then lastly, to get involved with volunteering, for farm to food bank program, they can like me on my personal Facebook page, which is @AmyCawley.

Katie Ward:

Awesome. Thank you. Well, Amy, we really appreciate you talking with us today and I know that our listeners will enjoy it as well. So we hope you have a very safe and healthy fall harvest season.

Amy Cawley:

Thank you, Katie. It's been a pleasure to be on here. I appreciate it a lot.

Katie Ward:

Thank you so much. So make sure when you're done listening to this podcast that you rate review, subscribe and share it with a friend. You can get podcasts notes and subscribe to email alerts at mafc.com/podcast. And remember to send any topic or guest suggestions to podcast@mafc.com. Thanks for listening everyone.