Employment Works Program Workforce Spotlight

When the National Guard needed food for the underserved youth, Humanim rose to the challenge. 

Trying to coordinate lunch for just one in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic was at times a monumental task. Just imagine adding 100 teenagers and 25 active-duty soldiers to the queue. That's the challenge Humanim's City Seeds operation accepted in the summer of 2020; not just for lunch, but all three meals, 304 days a year. 

The Freestate Challenge Academy is administered by the Maryland National Guard twice per year at Aberdeen Proving Ground for students who never finished high school. Through the academy, they are collectively taught leadership, organization, and discipline, all while exploring their academic and career goals. While most of the world screeched to a halt, the Challenge Academy Leadership knew they still needed to find a way forward for their students. Not the least of their worries was how they were going to adequately feed the incoming class; that's when DMIL looked to the Employment Works Program for help. 

After receiving the fair market award, Cindy Plavier-Truitt and Diana Ellis knew Humanim and City Seeds' work had just begun. Facing obstacles like hiring crises and record food prices, they worked collaboratively with our state partners to ready APF and the National Guard for the incoming class. Now the project has taken new life as an opportunity for both Humanim and Challenge Academy students. With outstanding on-site leadership from ServSafe Manager, Deanna Ringgold, and Executive Chef William Smith, City Seeds has far exceeded what was acceptable, venturing into the realm of the outstanding. This project serves as an example of the kind of creative problem solving our vendors are capable of and exhibits the type of ground up development that puts Marylanders back to work. 

Source: Patrick Lloyd