Sack hunger Bags of Plenty: Annual campaign needs food, money to meet growing and diverse need.

November 20, 1996

EULOGIES for John A. Cade, the late Republican leader in the Maryland Senate, portrayed a citizen whose philosophy of self-reliance did not overlook the fact that people can fall through the cracks.

It is a theme on which Marylanders should reflect as the 10th annual Bags of Plenty campaign begins. Folks can load up a bag or more of non-perishable foods, such as pasta, peanut butter, canned vegetables or baby formula, and leave them in marked bins at Giant Food stores or Baltimore fire stations through Dec. 6.

Or, they can send contributions to Bags of Plenty, P.O. Box 75164, Baltimore 21275-5164. The Maryland Food Committee and Maryland Food Bank run the program with help from corporate and government sponsors, including Giant Food, Maryland Transit Administration, Signet Bank, WMAR Channel 2, MIX 106.5-FM radio, The Colt 104.3-FM radio and The Sun. Donors may also charge contributions by calling Sundial at 783-1800, Ext. GIVE (4483).News from the trenches at Maryland's growing legion of soup kitchens and food pantries has been distressing for years. A survey of 200 food providers showed a 17 percent increase in people receiving food in 1995. This year's survey is expected to be up again. The population that relies on a Baltimore area soup kitchen for a meal could fill half of Oriole Park daily.

The recent welfare reform debate weighed public assistance vs. jobs, but the unfortunate message from social workers is that ever more of their clients are employed but can't make ends meet. More two-parent households, more people with steady income, more residents of comfy suburbia are waiting in line for food, not just destitute single men.

The dilemma of hunger should transcend politics, as John Cade understood. It is a need as sharp as the pit in someone's stomach -- including 600,000 children a day in Maryland. Perhaps it is a pain you can imagine even if you've been lucky enough never to have felt it yourself.

Pub Date: 11/20/96

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