Food Link volunteers salvage leftovers for the needy

August 06, 1992|By Amy P. Ingram | Amy P. Ingram,Contributing Writer

When Price Banister, 76, read a newspaper story about a program to save unwanted food from the trash, he decided instantly to volunteer some of his time.

"I got to thinking this is something I can do," said the Edgewater resident. "It made so much sense, getting this surplus food distributed to the proper places."

Mr. Banister and a few of his fellow seniors volunteer each week at Food Link Inc., a non-profit, independently run volunteer organization developed to transport unwanted food to the needy.

Food Link, founded by Susan Hickes and Judy Rachap of Annapolis one year ago, directs volunteers, using their own vehicles, to pick up leftovers and any food with a shelf life of at least one week from restaurants, caterers and grocery stores.

Ms. Rachap said the senior volunteers have been "really incredible. They are reliable and caring."

Although Mr. Banister has a full-time court-reporting business in Baltimore, he routinely picks up food from the Edgewater Giant grocery store every Wednesday at 9 a.m. and delivers it to the Second Baptist Church in Annapolis.

"I've picked up anywhere from 18 pounds to a high of 750 pounds of food in one trip," he said. "The idea of all this food going to waste, it just shouldn't happen. It's not right."

Frances Brennan, a 60-year-old Edgewater resident, volunteers some of her time to the program each Monday morning. "Since I was retired," she said, "I wanted to help people."

At 10 a.m., Mrs. Brennan and her husband, Tom, arrive at Safeway to load 200 or more pounds of food into their station wagon.

"One time, we had to load our motor home," she said. "And to think it would have been thrown in the Dumpster."

The Brennans deliver the food either to Our Lady of Perpetual Health in Mayo or to one of the senior centers in Marymount or Galesville. The trip often takes the couple several hours.

"It bothers me," said Mrs. Brennan, "that so much food is wasted in the country. It's not getting to everyone who needs it or deserves it."

Food Link, at 80 West St. in Annapolis, is the only food transportation service of its kind in the county. It delivers food to homeless shelters, soup kitchens, pantries, battered spouse shelters, drug rehabilitation programs, public housing sites, group homes and churches.

Last week, a record 5,000 pounds of food were saved by the Food Link volunteers from county trash bins.

"We consider our program to be extremely successful," Ms. Rachap said. "The more volunteers we have, the more donors we get."

For more information about Food Link, call 974-8599.

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