Gianiree never imagined her Identity internship would lead to testifying in front of the Maryland General Assembly, but there she was on March 9th, confidently speaking out in favor of the Hunger-free Campus Grant Program.

Watch video of Gianiree’s testimony  (at the 3:11:30 mark)

It began with one of Identity’s partnerships forged during the pandemic – an internship with the Montgomery County Food Council that helps older youth get work experience while helping the Food Council reach isolated families with emergency food.

Gianiree says this internship helped her to be brave, and to realize that her opinion is valued.  She contacted smaller nonprofits with food distribution information and helped their clients sign up for SNAP or other benefits.  She also acted as an ‘ear to the ground’ for the Food Council’s safety net strategists. “It’s amazing,” she says, “you talk to people who are in charge and you get to tell them what you and the community need and they work on solutions.”

Due to her valuable input, Gianiree was asked to join the Food Council’s Community Advisory Board, which led to the opportunity to testify in front of the Maryland General Assembly’s Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on March 9th.  She spoke passionately in favor of the Hunger-free Campus Grant Program (SB 767) which aims to provide college and university students that face hunger challenges with food assistance. She knows that the proposed program could have helped her continue her studies when, as a student at Montgomery College, Gianieree and her family struggled to pay rent and buy food.

Gianiree is now back in school and dreams of someday becoming a surgeon, but she says her hopes for this next year are simple: good health for her family, and to continue working to help others.