Low-stocked Food Bank looks to Bags of Plenty

November 17, 1994|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,Sun Staff Writer

Organizers of the annual Bags of Plenty food drive are hoping the two-week program will live up to its name.

In a year when donations from food manufacturers and grocery stores have fallen, food-pantry suppliers are relying more heavily on food drives to stock their shelves.

"All of a sudden, Bags of Plenty has gone from being just a nice thing to 'Whoa, this is it!' " said William Ewing, executive director of the Maryland Food Bank. The group organizes the drive with the Maryland Food Committee.

Organizers hope the drive will raise 240,000 pounds of food and $100,000. But this could be the first year that the food bank has not boosted distribution by 10 percent.

Organizers are asking individuals to fill bags found in The Sun today, or to send donations with coupons found in the newspaper or at grocery-store cash registers.

"Bags of Plenty makes it really easy for people to help," said Linda Eisenberg, director of the Maryland Food Committee.

Contributors can bring bags of food to Giant supermarkets, Signet Bank or any city fire station through Nov. 30. The drive particularly needs high-protein canned foods such as peanut butter and tuna fish, as well as canned soups, fruits and vegetables.

Contributors also can donate cash at Signet Bank.

The food "stays right in the bags and goes right out" to some of the 900 soup kitchens, food pantries and shelters that are members of the food bank, Mr. Ewing said.

Inventory surpluses at stores and factories once were a bonanza for the 15-year-old food bank. But improved technology and shipping techniques have meant less surplus is available to the nonprofit distributor.

Industry donations have decreased 25 percent to 30 percent this year, according to the food bank's marketing director.

"Our stock is quite low," Mr. Ewing said. "The fall-off from the food industry will be impossible to [make up] even with the food drive."

The food bank distributes an average of 900,000 pounds of food a month. The holiday season and cold-weather months are its busiest time.

"We tie our [drive] to Thanksgiving because that makes people feel more sharing," said Mr. Ewing.

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