CHESTERTOWN — The Kent County Commissioners have officially designated the first funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for the Feeding the Elderly Initiative.
The funds were designated on Tuesday, Sept. 21.
This followed a presentation on ARPA funding on Aug. 31 when County Administrator Shelley Heller explained the four categories for ARPA spending — public health and economic impacts, premium pay for essential workers, government revenue loss, and investments in infrastructure — and each of the county’s departments presented initial ideas on how the money could be spent.
Also at the Aug. 31 meeting, presentations were given on, among other things, upgrades to the audio and visual systems in the commissioners’ hearing room, extensive infrastructure projects and the Feeding the Elderly Initiative.
The Feeding the Elderly Initiative started in March 2020 as a way of providing fresh groceries so elderly and homebound individuals would not have to go grocery shopping.
The initiative was started by the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It now operates under Minary’s Dream Alliance.
“It’s a pretty well oiled machine that they have already,” Director of the Kent County Local Management Board Rosemary Ramsey-Granillo said at the August work session. “It’s the only real food stable delivery service that we have for residents right now.”
During the initial ARPA presentation, Ramsey-Granillo requested $112,800 for the initiative to continue its operations for one year — or $225,600 for two years.
The initial request was for funds to pay the two part-time coordinators and for the purchase of “fresh produce — eggs, protein — much more than what you’re able to secure with the Maryland Food Bank or other traditional pantries,” Ramsey-Granillo said.
Most of providers used by Feeding the Elderly are local and can provide both fresh produce and protein.
There are currently 215 people being fed each week by the initiative. More than half of the beneficiaries are over age 70, and some households are multigenerational. Beneficiaries are located across Kent County, including in Chestertown, Rock Hall, Galena, Millington, Fairlee, Worton, Still Pond and Betterton.
Feeding the Elderly is currently accepting nonperishable food donations. Donations can be deposited at the horse trailer in front of 535 Morgnec Road in Chestertown
The commissioners approved the request for $112,800 for a one year continuation of the Feeding the Elderly Initiative.
Other news from the commissioners’ meeting:
• The Town of Millington requested the use of 5 acres of land on the former Millington Elementary School property to build 20 units for a senior housing project. Those 20 units, combined with the 20 units the town hopes to build on property it already owns on Carville Road, would create the 40 units needed for state funding opportunities.
This project would preempt any projects for a community center, like the one Millington Town Administrator Jo Manning presented at the commissioners’ Sept. 14 meeting.
The commissioners would like to see a survey plan of how the land would be used before they will write a letter of intent to allow Millington to move forward with the plans for the senior housing.
• The commissioners approved Kent Attainable Housing’s request for a waiver of the fees and costs associated with obtaining permits for the construction of its housing project at 24909 Lambs Meadow Road in Worton.
The fees — including a building permit, stormwater review fee, standard sediment control review fee, driveway permit and sewer and water hookup — totaled $1,038.
Kent Attainable Housing will start building the foundation of the new home by the end of the month. It hopes to have the modular home delivered in October and the home should be delivered to the customer by Dec. 1.
• A consolidated transportation plan tour will be presented at the commissioners’ next meeting, 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28.
The mayors of each town have been invited to attend. The meeting is open to the public.