BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Since the onset of the covid-19 pandemic, the Maryland Food Bank has seen an 88 percent increase for families in need. People who have never been food insecure, until now, are coming to the Food Bank for help.

AJ Robinson, an Arbutus/Catonsville native, decided to bring awareness to the issues of food insecurity by cycling across the country and raising money for the Maryland Food Bank and the Sunshine Division in Oregon.

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“It was very humbling for me to have to ask people for food,” Robinson told WJZ outside the Maryland Food Bank as he finished up the last few hundred miles of the 3,600-mile trek.  He rides for people who do not have food on their table every day — without the help of nonprofits who, in turn, need our help.

“I grew up in an upper/middle-class home and I’ve never been hungry and I’ve never had to want for something and unfortunately there’s too many people in our community, especially in Baltimore, Maryland that do,” Robinson said.

From Fort Stevens, Oregon to Ocean City, Maryland, he biked — hitting 11 states. His 40-pound bike was weighed down with 80 pounds of gear so he could camp along his route.

“The natural beauty we’ve seen along the way has been really incredible but honestly it’s been the people I’ve met along the way. People in small towns, people who provided water for me, people who have given me meals when I was hungry and didn’t have access to resources,” Robinson said as he geared up to leave Catonsville and begin his final trip to Ocean City. He is expected to arrive Friday.

He added that this ride and the challenges he faced gave him a deeper appreciation for the mission he is on. “It’s really furthered my passion to help provide more support for the community, trying to gather support from everybody you can.”

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In total, he has raised $13,500 of his $20,000 goal thanks to donations and generous gifts from his 12 sponsors. He plans to split the amount between The Sunshine Division, a nonprofit in Oregon, along with the Maryland Food Bank once he hits his goal.

He worked at the food bank between 2015-2016 and said the organization has always been dear to his heart.

On Facebook, he goes by AJ Robinson and you can follow his journey on Instagram.  To donate to the cause, visit his gofundme.

“You can make a large scale impact like AJ did, but you can also make a five dollar monthly payment or one-time contribution in whatever amount you can provide. It is really going to make a difference for our families in need for the months ahead,” said Maryland Food Bank Emily Hamsher Kindred, Director of Annual Funds.

Robinson will leave Catonsville Wednesday and head into Delaware before arriving in Ocean City on Friday at Pickles Pub — a sponsor since day one.

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Rachael Cardin