WHEN CARROLL COUNTY Food Sunday recently found its cupboard nearly bare, caring people responded to that need with money, other donations and food collection drives. The community response to this 14-year-old food pantry was impressive enough to leverage a $2,000 grant from the Maryland Food Committee and the promise of $1,000 more by year's end.
That was the good news for the non-profit volunteer agency, and for some 350 working poor families who depend on its weekly distributions of nutritious groceries to make ends meet.
The bad news: The financial crisis is not over. Experienced operations manager Tom Canon (the only paid full-time employee) had to be let go. And the local charity's applicant rolls have soared by 40 percent since January.
Despite a 12 percent increase in contributions this year, demand has grown even faster at the food bank's distribution centers in Westminster, Taneytown and Sykesville.
Typically, Food Sunday and other charities look to the coming period from Thanksgiving to Christmas for major pledges and donations to carry them through much of the year. This year, the Carroll food bank fell a month or two short of that traditional span of replenishment.
While overall unemployment is down, more working families with children have turned to food banks to stretch their tight budgets. Added to that strain is a 30 percent cut in Maryland's food stamp budget last month and new programs that move welfare recipients to jobs but don't provide enough transition resources.
While Food Sunday is getting by with purely volunteer help for the time-being, this important organization needs full-time leadership to place orders effectively, stock the warehouse and organize distributions.
To make the most of limited resources, and maintain a nutritious balance in its food packages, the agency requires funding to pay a coordinator. It can't rely on community food collections alone, no matter how well-intentioned. (A $1 cash donation can produce $13 in food for clients, the agency claims.)
Carroll County Food Sunday is strongly deserving of community help, just as it has helped thousands of needy over the years. Caring citizens will do their part to refill the pantry.
Pub Date: 11/04/96