What does hunger feel like?

November 20, 1992

A press release we received to announce the kick-off of the 1992 Bags of Plenty campaign included a Q&A about hunger in Maryland.

The most difficult question to answer was also the most basic: "What does it feel like to be hungry?"

Not what does it feel like to be three hours late for dinner?

Not what does it feel like to settle for leftovers because one can't get to the market?

What does it feel like to be hungry?

Adults who are hungry suffer from headaches, fatigue, depression, stomach aches and nausea, the Maryland Food Bank answered in its release. Children who are hungry, it said, are two to three times as likely as their peers to suffer from anemia, unwanted weight loss, headaches, earaches, frequent colds, irritability and an inability to concentrate.

What does it feel like to be hungry?

It is a question most of us can't truly answer. We worry about a lot of things in complex juggling acts of work and family, but the source of our next meal isn't, for most of us, one of them.

The shame of it is more and more people, including an estimated 126,000 children, can answer that question. Soup kitchens are shouldering much greater demand. Manna House on 25th Street served 65 children one day last summer. The lunch crowd at Our Daily Bread, the state's largest soup kitchen, is up 25 percent this year, to 800 people. People wait hours to get in. Even an upswing in the economy would take years to reach the neediest and reverse the demand for food, Maryland Food Bank Director Bill Ewing says.

The seventh annual Bags of Plenty campaign, the state's most successful anti-hunger effort, is running through Nov. 30. Donations of nutritious, non-perishable food enable the Maryland Food Committee and the Maryland Food Bank to provide not only Thanksgiving meals to people who would otherwise go without them, but supplies to last into the winter. Please drop off bags of food at any Giant Food market, Provident Bank branch, Baltimore City fire station or Baltimore Sun office.

Donations of money are also welcome. Checks may be mailed to: Maryland Food Committee, Bags of Plenty, P.O. Box 23709, Baltimore, MD 21203. Last year, 16,000 people donated food and money to the campaign.

What does it feel like to give?

It feels very good.

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