A Time to Share

November 23, 1994

Earlier this month, large numbers of Maryland voters opted for smaller government, a notion that usually includes the idea of privatizing more services, including those that help to feed, clothe and shelter the poor. Thanksgiving is a good time to back up those votes by showing a willingness to shoulder more responsibilities.

As families begin preparation for tomorrow's big dining feast, it's worth remembering that there are also tables that will offer meager rations. Hunger does exist in Maryland, and contrary to many assumptions, it is not confined to poor, inner-city neighborhoods.

The Maryland Food Bank reports that in 1986, it distributed 90 percent of its food within the city. Since then, there has been a dramatic shift in need. Now, fully 60 percent of the 900,000 pounds of food it distributes each month goes to families outside Baltimore City.

Thanksgiving, the traditional celebration of abundant harvests, is also the traditional time to seek food for the needy. It is also an appropriate time to remind those who plan to feast tomorrow that Thanksgiving originated as a time of sharing.

This year the need for donations to food banks and other groups that help feed the hungry is acute. Hunger relief efforts have suffered from a series of unhappy coincidences. For instance, sophisticated inventory controls have reduced by as much as 25 percent the amount of food that is culled from shelves and donated to the food bank by supermarkets and other food stores. The baseball strike eliminated another major source of leftovers from the food concessions at Camden Yards.

So the burden falls increasingly on conscientious Marylanders, and they have plenty of ways to help out. The annual Bags of Plenty campaign organized by the Maryland Food Bank and other groups is now under way. Last week, brown paper bags were distributed in The Sun for this drive. But any box or bag will do. Fill them with non-perishable food. High-protein items like tuna fish and peanut butter are especially welcome, but anything nourishing will help.

The bags can be dropped off at any Giant supermarket, Signet Bank branch or Baltimore City fire station through Nov. 30. Or if you wish to make a donation by check, mail it to the Maryland Food Bank, 241 North Franklintown Road, Baltimore, Md., 21223.

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