Inmates Provide Food for Thousands of Maryland Families

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HAGERSTOWN, MD - Inmates in Hagerstown were busy picking apples Monday morning. Several inmates from the Roxbury Correctional Facility picked apples they harvested from the orchard next door.

"We take pride in maintaining our apple orchard," says Jerome Hill, an inmate.

The men have been taking care of the apples since day one, harvesting them and now picking them. They'll then wash and package the apples.

"The red delicious apples are large and healthy and they're a good part of the orchard," says Hill.

It's part of a program run by Maryland Correctional Enterprises to teach work skills and ethics to inmates.

"For me, it's like another step to freedom," says James Giffin, an inmate. "Instead of being locked up all day, we are out here working."

"You can see that little spark in their eye," says Renata Seergae of MCE. "They love to be out in the outdoors. They love to see what they've helped produce so it really is something that helps their souls."

The Maryland Food Bank will buy the apples for a fraction of the price of what they'd usually pay. The ones that can't be bought will be put back into the ground for fertilizer.

This is the second year the food bank partnered with MCE, and it's their second load of apples. They hope to get about six more.

"Food's harder to find, so the more relationship we can build, there's a lot of mouths to feed and with this economy that number's going to go up," says John May of the Maryland Food Bank.

"We know how tough it is for people right now," says Seergae. "Everybody is in need and we like to partner with organizations that are helping those people in need."

The inmates say they enjoy helping the food bank.

"This is a meaningful job," says Hill. "It's contributing to the good health of society."

"It's helping out and giving everybody the opportunity to eat what we grow," says Giffin. "We're glad to pick them for everyone else to enjoy them."

Thousands of Maryland families will get fresh apples thanks to the inmates. The money made from selling the apples goes back into supporting Maryland Correctional Enterprises so they can continue programs like this one.