It’s Time for Businesses to Step Up

By Luisa Guaracao, June 25, 2018

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Crystal Townsend, President of the Healthcare Initiative Foundation, moderates a panel at the launch of Business Leaders Fighting in Silver Spring, MD.

Benjamin Edwards can play eight instruments. In his 50 years as a musician, Mr. Edwards has had the honor and pleasure of playing for renowned figures like former President Barack Obama and world class tennis player Serena Williams.

Though he’s had a successful and fulfilling career as a musician, Mr. Edwards often struggles to make ends meet and put food on the table. His wife passed away 11 years ago, making him the sole caretaker of his paraplegic daughter, Stephanie. Because of this and other personal health reasons, Mr. Edwards had to retire from playing music full time.

Mr. Edwards has diabetic neuropathy, a condition that causes numbness and pain in the hands and feet. Given his condition, he can no longer drive, which means he can’t easily go out to buy food. And he definitely can’t afford to get take-out every night.

Mr. Edwards is just one of the 63,000 people in Montgomery County who don’t know if they’ll have three meals today or tomorrow for themselves and their families. In a wealthy county like the one we live in, this is unacceptable.

Donating food during the holidays and volunteering once a year at a soup kitchen is not enough. Charity is good, but system reform that gets to the root of the problem is better.

To really make an impact we need to invest in programs that tackle the root causes of hunger. And by “we,” I mean businesses, because the public sector alone can’t solve hunger.

Successful businesses have big bucks; they can make a big difference, which is why Burness is joining forces with Sodexo to launch Business Leaders Fighting Hunger. The coalition’s goal is to raise $500,000 over the next four years to reduce the number of hungry residents in Montgomery County.

We’re already halfway to our goal, but we need support from more businesses! If you know a business person who might be interested in contributing to the fight against hunger, please send them our way.

All funds collected this year will support the expansion of Food is Medicine, a program that delivers fresh fruits and vegetables to diabetic patients, like Mr. Edwards, who don’t have access to healthy foods. It’s like Blue Apron and HelloFresh but for people with low incomes who often have to decide between paying bills or buying food.

The program has worked wonders for Mr. Edwards. In just three short months, his blood sugar levels dropped from 14 to 8, which is remarkable for any diabetic person. And, best of all, he was able to put food on the table for his family.

Food is Medicine currently serves residents in the Takoma/Long Branch area and needs our support to expand to Eastern Montgomery County. Any businesses that are interested in joining Business Leaders Fighting Hunger should contact Luisa Guaracao at lguaracao@burness.com.

Business Leaders Fighting Hunger was co-founded by Sodexo and Burness. Initial members also include Bendler & Company, Bethesda Magazine, Bass Accounting & Tax Services, SmithPilot and Social & Scientific Systems.

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