For the 28th year in a row, students from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) and other University of Maryland, Baltimore schools spent part of their Thanksgiving feeding and assisting the hungry.
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Students, faculty, and staff from the medical school, as well as other UMB volunteers, joined volunteers from the community at Booker T. Washington Middle School in what has become a Thanksgiving tradition. Project Feast was held Nov. 23, 2017.
They served more than 400 meals and provided free clothing, fresh produce, and pantry items to those in need, including children. Taking part were 150 volunteers, including alumni of the University of Maryland School of Social Work (SSW) and students at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.
“We want to help Baltimoreans in need, with resources, donations, and food, more so than ever this year,” said medical student Lillian Assatourian. She is one of five Project Feast co-coordinators who organized the event with the guidance of Sheri Slezak, MD, professor in UMSOM’s Department of Surgery.
Robin Boston, an accountant in UMB’s Philanthropy Department, says she regularly volunteers elsewhere in West Baltimore but that this was her first time at Project Feast. “I found it very rewarding,” she said. “There was a steady flow of people coming through, and they all seemed to enjoy the food and fellowship.”
UMSOM students as well as University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP) students, accompanied by community pharmacists, took blood pressure readings and distributed health information to diners and volunteers alike. A group of eight UMSOP students displayed a poster on sugar in drinks and provided information to help prevent or control diabetes.
Diners could take home a bag of fresh produce donated by Hungry Harvest, which is one of the sponsors along with the University Student Government Association, the Medical Alumni Association, and the School of Medicine Student Council.
The event is just one of many community outreach efforts by UMSOM, which collaborated with Promise Heights, a University initiative led by SSW that serves children at Booker T. Washington and other public schools in West Baltimore.