PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, Va. — The slogan for United Communities Against Poverty (UCAP), “Changing the world by empowering people,” is a testament that they follow through daily as they impact the Prince George’s County community. Their gift to the flourishing county is to offset some of the unfortunate hardships that are experienced by many.
UCAP was created in 1964 and provides housing services, food assistance, emergency shelter, energy-saving services and community development, according to their website.
During a food drive on Wednesday in partnership with WUSA9, UCAP collected about 8,000 pounds of food which equates to around 6,667 meals. The organization also received $662.78 in donations.
The hidden issue of food insecurity in one of the most affluent areas, not just in the DMV but also in the country, is caused by the intersection of issues that the COVID-19 pandemic worsened. Employment and income became unsteady for many over the past few years and organizations like UCAP were there for those most vulnerable to lean on.
“Because COVID had no barrier to any demographic that it impacted, I think that everybody is in a place of need right now,” said Rasheeda Jamison, the CEO of UCAP.
Jamison said that there has been a greater need to serve larger families since the pandemic. Additionally, there have been more requests for diapers and the organization is a recipient and partner with D.C. Diaper Bank, according to Jamison.
“Food insecurity directly correlates with income, and it also correlates with the demographic of where folks live,” Jamison added.
According to the Capital Area Food Bank’s Hunger Report 2022, about 48% of people experienced some form of food insecurity in Prince George's County last year, making it the area experiencing the most food insecurity in the DMV area.
UCAP provides additional resources outside of its food pantry. The organization offers a homeless shelter and programs that educate people on purchasing a home, renting assistance, and conducting various types of drives during the holiday season.
Many who came to donate at Wednesday’s food drive were prepared to give anything they had to those in need of food. Payton Bailey Jr. said after watching WUSA9 during his overnight shift he decided to drop off the food he boxed up in advance with plans to donate it to a local food pantry.
“It’s the thing to do. I would love to help people who are less fortunate. I always give [and] always try to help somebody. You get your blessings out of helping others,” said Bailey.
Melea King, the Housing Coordinator for UCAP, joined the food drive on Wednesday and explained that her role at the organization involves working with people to understand their housing options. Additionally, she addressed how one’s income plays a major role in not only their housing situation but how one eats as well.
“[I get to] help other people in the pantry that may be struggling and just need a hand up, so we offer them a handout,” said King.
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This organization has a mission to end food insecurity in Montgomery County, Maryland.