Food drive collections exceeded expectations, officials say

January 15, 1998|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,SUN STAFF

Two food drives, one new and one old, gathered far more groceries than expected for the poor and needy of Northwest Baltimore and Maryland, drive officials said yesterday.

In the first Hanukkah for the Hungry drive, students at 29 preschools, Hebrew schools and day schools collected about 5,000 pounds of food, said a representative of Kosher Food Pantry of Jewish Family Services.

Donors also gave $2,500 in the December drive. Of all participating schools in the Baltimore area, Annapolis and Frederick, Beth Israel's Congregation School in Baltimore gave the most: $500 as well as several hundred pounds of food. Businesses also gave food and gift certificates.

Most of the food goes to the needy in the Jewish community of Northwest Baltimore.

The pantry said requests for free nonperishable kosher food is growing monthly. The agency gave out more than 1,000 bags of groceries last month. Since the summer, it reports 384 bags in August, 457 in September, 489 in October and more than 815 in November.

Leslie Goldberg, a Jewish Family Services volunteer, thought up the drive. "One of the most meaningful values that we can instill in our children is the importance of community outreach and volunteer work," she said.

The 1997 Bags of Plenty program reported final figures for food, collected by the Maryland Food Bank, and cash, gathered by the Maryland Food Committee.

In its 19th year, the food bank collected 279,860 pounds of food at its 241 N. Franklintown Road complex -- the richest bounty in about a decade of Bags of Plenty food drives, according to Bill Ewing, executive director.

The goal was 225,000 pounds, said Karen Webber, special events manager.

The food committee, with a goal of $60,000, cleared more than $47,000 in its part of Bags of Plenty.

That, and more, is needed, officials added. The poor's need for free food was apparent Tuesday at the annual Opportunities Fair '98 at the Convention Center.

About 3,000 poor and homeless people who had been bused from more than 30 shelters and other locations ate donated lunches in five shifts besides getting free medical and other services.

About 3,000 advocates for the hungry and homeless will be outside the State House in Annapolis on Feb. 12 to push for emergency food and housing allocations, said Robert V. Hess, president of Action for the Homeless and the Maryland Food Committee.

Pub Date: 1/15/98

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