Food campaign finishes drive ahead of last year

December 10, 1996|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,SUN STAFF

The Bags of Plenty are overflowing and none too soon, say activists to relieve hunger.

The 10th annual food campaign to provide emergency food for homeless and other hungry Marylanders is ending its 1996 drive ahead of last year's collection of food and money, the Maryland Food Bank and Maryland Food Committee said yesterday.

The statewide drive bagged more than 215,000 pounds of food and $53,000 in cash and checks, 7.5 percent and 12.8 percent increases, respectively, above the 1995 totals of 200,000 pounds and $47,000.

More donations are expected in coming days.

"This is our most effective year ever," said William Ewing, executive director of the food bank, which stores food at its warehouse at 241 Franklintown Road in West Baltimore.

"It's heartwarming," said Kathleen Hider, development director of the food committee. "There's a heightened awareness of hunger, and people seem more sensitive this year. We are truly pleased and grateful."

Saying the pace of donations were consistent throughout the drive, Ewing and Hider cited Giant Food, Signet Bank, the Mass Transit Administration, city fire stations, radio stations WWMX-FM (106.5) and WOCT-FM (104.3), and brown bags distributed in The Sun as contributing to the drive's success.

The food committee collects money for food at 2521 N. Charles St. and said it is always in the market for more.

"Thousands of people are being helped by this drive," Hider said. "The donors make a significant difference.

"Yet, the need is growing just as fast as the donations."

The committee's annual state survey of emergency food providers revealed that they provided food for 108,658 individuals and families in Central Maryland in October, an increase of almost 25 percent over the number fed a year earlier.

Statewide, 204 pantries and soup kitchens served 159,228 people in October, a 21 percent jump over 1995.

About 82 percent of the providers statewide said they needed additional food to feed more and more hungry people.

Mat Harrington and Kate Wulff, the food committee staff members who conducted the survey, said food pantry workers in the survey repeatedly asserted, "We need food" to handle the increase.

Pub Date: 12/10/96

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