BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A program created to help Baltimoreans amid the coronavirus pandemic is marking a milestone: more than two million meals distributed to those in need.

Over the past five months, more than two million meals have been given out to thousands of east Baltimore residents thanks to the effort led by Johns Hopkins University.

“On a weekly basis, that equates to about 6,000 families receiving meals that could last them over the course of two weeks,” Alicia Wilson with Johns Hopkins University said.

The effort is called the East Baltimore COVID-19 Food Access Initiative. Baltimore Urban Leadership Foundation is one of the 20 non-profit organizations partnering with Hopkins to make sure families affected by the pandemic receive meals.

“They get fresh fruits and vegetables, that serves about two to four, gives them lunch and dinner for seven days,” Tehma Smith Wilson with the foundation said.

City leaders commend the initiative’s efforts during these tough times.

“It means a lot to people here in east Baltimore that probably even before COVID, wasn’t really getting a good meal, this is a great meal for them,” councilman Robert Stokes said.

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The initiative has been so well-received in the community it has been extended from a 16-week run to 20 weeks.

“People have been extremely grateful,” Smith Wilson said. “A lot of them said they don’t know what they would do if they didn’t have this resource to help them.”

Week after week, volunteers were committed to serving the community. Organizers said it’s a prime example showing how coming together makes all the difference.

That’s why Johns Hopkins is making sure a simple message of thanks to the volunteers and non-profits involved is heard.

“Without one without the other, I don’t think it would work, it really does take us all doing things together,” Wilson said.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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