Nonprofit Spotlight: Asbury Church Assistance Network

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Since 2003, the Asbury Church Assistance Network Inc. (ACAN), an outreach ministry of Asbury Town Neck United Methodist Church, has served families and individuals in and around Severna Park. As a nonprofit organization, ACAN's aim is to enhance the quality of life for individuals in emergency crises.

ACAN exists to lessen the burden on county and state agencies that also provide such support. ACAN’s mission is to help reduce food insecurity and increase the access to healthy, fresh, and nutritious foods for adults and children.

Everyone should have the option to eat well. With that goal in mind, ACAN makes food available to anyone in the community by building relationships that provide not just help, but hope.

ACAN helps families fill in the gaps during hardships and is in place to reduce the stress often associated with eating well during tough times. The nonprofit offers quality and quantity.

It’s no longer the “down and out” who come to food pantries. For instance, it's the grandmother struggling to stretch her pension to provide for the children of her opioid-addicted daughter or son. This grandmother is unable to receive assistance for the children because the parent has them already listed by social services as receiving benefits. However, the children never see those benefits. These grandparents are reluctant to turn in their own children and don’t want their grandchildren placed in foster care. This is a growing concern in Maryland.

ACAN operates solely on charitable donations from the community. Food is donated by the Anne Arundel County Food Bank, local grocery stores, and area residents who support the mission and vision of ACAN. Although food is purchased from the Maryland Food Bank, it also donates to ACAN.

Each month, ACAN provides an average of 1,000 individuals with food. ACAN is open to the public Monday through Wednesday from 10:00am to 2:00pm. But food is delivered weekly to the homeless living at BWI Airport and to seniors at designated locations.

For special holidays, ACAN makes extra provisions, like the recent Thanksgiving giveaway held onsite on November 14. More than 250 families received a turkey and all the trimmings along with many other food items. ACAN distributed more than 6,500 pounds of food within three hours.

“Hardships are inevitable in life,” said Janet Pack, executive director of ACAN. “One day, you’re on top of the world. The next day, the world is on top of you. That’s where ACAN can help alleviate some of the pressure.”

This year, you may be in a place where you can give help. But next year, you may be in need of the generosity you freely gave. Will you be part of something significant? Will you choose to make a difference for just one person? That’s how change happens — one person at a time.

According to a recent inspection by the Maryland Food Bank, ACAN is the model pantry in Anne Arundel County. ACAN exceeds the basic operational requirements by the state’s largest food bank. ACAN is doing innovative things, and unlike the typical food pantry, ACAN allows customers to choose the items they prefer.

Donations can be made by check, online at www.acansevernapark.org or with store gift cards in any amount. Checks can be sent to 429 Asbury Drive, Severna Park, MD 21146.

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