Anne Arundel's misery ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

February 03, 1993

Listen closely and you can hear the gnawing of thousands of hungry stomachs, from Brooklyn Park to Bristol, from Pasadena to Maryland City. Not a pretty sound, which is why many of us choose not to hear it except, perhaps, during the holidays when we are in the mood to do good things for the less fortunate.

It's time to start listening. Hunger isn't seasonal here, nor are the chronically poor the only ones who don't have enough to eat. Layoffs by employers such as Westinghouse Electric Corp. have given birth to a "new poor" -- suddenly impoverished families loathe to let go of the lifestyles they used to be able to afford. Rather than lose their homes, many of them do without food.

The county's 62 food pantries say they are struggling to keep up with demand as more families rely exclusively on them for groceries year-round. The Maryland Food Committee reports that hunger, which has worsened all over the Baltimore area during the recession, has hit Anne Arundel especially hard.

Consider these facts: The number of civilian unemployed in Anne Arundel jumped 70 percent, from 7,474 in 1990 to 12,107 last year. The number of homeless -- both those who received shelter and those turned away -- continues to rise. The number of recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children grew by 28 percent, from 7,678 to 9,824 from 1990 to 1992. The number of children eligible for free school meals increased by half, from 4,485 in 1990 to 6,688 in 1990; those eligible for reduced price meals also rose. In 1991, 12,530 countians received food stamps; a year later, 15,055, or 20 percent more, used them.

Ultimately, the cure for growing poverty is a thriving national economy. Until then, public assistance is the only thing that separates many of these people from disaster. Yet the state's own precarious financial situation continues to eat away at that safety net.

Tomorrow, the Maryland Food Committee heads to the State House to lobby against further erosion of the safeguards that protect our neediest residents. What the rest of us, those who are lucky enough to have a full larder in spite of hard times, must remember is that they protect everyone else, too. Hungry people are desperate people. We all have a stake in ending their misery.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.