Share your bounty

November 23, 1994

Thanksgiving, the traditional celebration of abundant harvests, is also the traditional time to seek food for the needy. Actually, focusing on these particular weeks is a bit of a gimmick, because the need to supplement the diets of the needy is a year-round task. But it is an appropriate time to remind those who are fortunate enough to have ample food on their tables, and who are planning family feasts for tomorrow, that Thanksgiving also originated as a time of sharing.

This year the need for donations to food banks and other organizations that help feed the hungry is especially acute. A series of unhappy coincidences has combined to reduce drastically the supplies ordinarily available on a year-round basis to the Maryland Food Bank and similar organizations. Increasingly sophisticated inventory controls have reduced the amount of food, perishable and packaged, that is culled from shelves and donated to the food bank by supermarkets and other purveyors. Industry contributions of food that would otherwise have been discarded have fallen off by at least 25 percent this year for that reason. During the summer and early fall another major source of leftovers, food concessions at strike-bound Camden Yards, dried up entirely.

So the burden falls increasingly, as so often it does, on the conscientious ordinary citizen. The annual Bags of Plenty campaign organized by the Maryland Food Bank and other groups is under way. Brown paper bags were distributed in The Sun last week, but any container will do. They should be filled with non-perishable food, especially high protein items like tuna fish and peanut butter, but anything nourishing. The bags can be dropped off at any Giant supermarket, Signet Bank branch or Baltimore City fire station through next Wednesday. Or checks can be mailed to Bags of Plenty, P.O. Box 75164, Baltimore, Md. 21275-5164.

Though the focus of food drives is usually the city, the need is not wholly urban. The suburbs have their hungry, too. In fact, more than half the 900,000 pounds a month distributed by the Maryland Food Bank goes to assist food programs in suburban and rural parts of the state. Eight years ago 90 percent of the food was distributed inside Baltimore. Many communities around the state are conducting their own food drives, and they are equally worthy of support.

A lot of Marylanders seemed to be voting in favor of privatizing social services on Election Day. Here is an opportunity for them to contribute something tangible to back up their votes.

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