It has been almost two years since the Guinness Open Gate Brewery open the door at Halethorpe, and, throughout that time – on the sidelines pouring a glass of beer in the press room, leading tours at the brewery, and serving food in pairs at the restaurant upstairs – the brewery has made a point to give back to the surrounding community .
“We are not in Baltimore just to make beer,” said Guinness Brewery Ambassador Ryan Wagner. “From the very beginning of creating a home in the United States, we have been dedicated to utilizing the community we have built here at the brewery to significantly support local efforts.”
Guinness has formed a very strong bond with Maryland Food Bank (MFB). The team not only organizes fundraising and specials beer paired dinner to take advantage of the non-profit struggle to end hunger across the state, but also recruit graduates from MFB FoodWorks Culinary training programs that teach low-income individuals cooking skills while also providing healthy food for those in need – to work in their kitchens.
Not surprisingly, Guinness has found a way to continue its partnership with the food bank after the COVID-19 crisis. Even though the brewery closed its doors after canceling the annual celebration of St. Day. Patrick in mid-March, was recently launched roadside beer sales, all of which will be donated to the MFB coronavirus response effort.
“Demand caused by this crisis has reached unprecedented levels,” said MFB president and CEO Carmen Del Guercio, who added that distribution had increased by 60 percent in the past four weeks. “The good news is that responding to this kind of situation is what was built by the Maryland Food Bank.”
In addition to continuing normal distribution, the food bank has collected thousands of “Back-Up Boxes” – 30-pound food packages intended to feed a family of four for 30 days – to be sent to areas where the normal distribution channels have been disrupted.
Describing it by numbers, Del Guercio explained that almost 90 percent of the food distributed by MFB is currently being purchased, not from donations. Before the outbreak, the figure was around 25 percent.
“During this crisis, we have spent $ 3.5 million to buy food, which will be close to $ 220,000 before COVID,” he said, projecting that it would cost almost $ 12 million to respond to the increasing needs in the next 90 days. “The biggest need that we have right now is financial support to help us get this much needed food.”
Suffice it to say, the contribution of Guinness money from the sale of to-go beer will be very beneficial in feeding the community. But the second part of the brewing plan to reach out was to donate 500 of his Brewers bread – a typical beer-bread recipe from a restaurant upstairs, 1817, made with Guinness’ Over the Moon milk – to help fill Back-Up Boxes and distribute to more from 1,200 community partners every week.
“The concept of ‘breaking bread’ has long been a part of Guinness history,” Wagner said, “so donating our Brewer’s Bread to a food bank feels like a natural way for us to help.”
Contactless, curbside pickup to benefit from a food bank offered on Guinness Thursday and Friday from 3-7 nights, and Saturdays from 12-5 nights Among Baltimore’s favorites and Dublin classics to choose from including Galaxy IPA, Red Currant sour, Crosslands Clover honey ale, and of course, Guinness Baltimore Blonde. All orders must be made on line, where customers can choose their desired pick up time.
At the far end of the food bank, interested locals can do it involved by donating funds, as well as volunteering. Although social distance efforts have limited the number of volunteers that MFB can accommodate at present, it still offers 13 shifts per week.
For Del Guercio, the ongoing partnership with Guinness is a prime example of one of the main themes that MFB praised during its 40th anniversary last year: “It takes more than food to end hunger.”