Groups hope to unite to end hunger

February 24, 1993|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

Hunger. It's an invisible problem in affluent Howard County.

A group of local human service providers already working to alleviate hunger in the county met yesterday to come up with more efficient ways to address the problem.

The meeting was coordinated by the Maryland Food Committee as part of its Maryland Coalition to End Hunger project.

The project's goal is to organize local groups into a coalition that would work together to address hunger here and statewide.

Currently there are 20 such coalitions statewide, said Philathia Calhoun, the regional manager of the Maryland Food Committee. She hopes to organize a coalition in the county.

"We're trying to pull together one group that can speak with a unified voice," Ms. Calhoun said.

The providers at the meeting agreed that more people in need could be helped if agencies could pool their resources.

"After almost a year of working on the problem I've been able to see that one group can't do it by themselves," said Bob Cremen, director of the Howard County Baptist Association. "It takes a lot of groups working together."

The association, a group of 20 Southern Baptist churches and missions in the county, operates four food pantries in the county through its Caring for the Needy ministry. The ministry also provides financial help, counseling and job training to those in need.

As a first step toward that kind of unification, the human service providers attending the meeting agreed to work together to help the Community Action Council (CAC) on its next food distribution day on March 24.

CAC distributes food four times a year as part of a federal food surplus program. The agency is scheduled to give away 6,000 pounds of potatoes at the Ellicott City Armory in a month.

To manage the undertaking, Dorothy Moore, the director of CAC has already enlisted the help of a local fraternity and church group. Yesterday, other groups signed up to help in the effort.

Mr. Cremen is going to invite state legislators representing Howard County to attend the distribution to see firsthand that there is hunger in the county.

Sam Marshall, the director of the county's Department of Social Services, plans to have intake workers from his office available at the distribution to take applications for food stamps.

He said that many people who go to food pantries are eligible for food stamps but don't apply for them out of pride.

Food providers said they hope to work together in different ways on future distribution days. For example, instead of giving away all the food at the Ellicott City Armory, Ms. Moore suggested sending some of it to established food pantries, such as those operated by the Howard County Baptist Association.

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