Anne Arundel County Food Bank keeps families afloat when times get tough Begun in 1988, the agency serves about 89,000 a year

March 01, 1998|By Melinda Rice | Melinda Rice,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Hungry people were lined up in the cold to get food to feed their families for another week. Their breath turned white in the air as they greeted each other, inquired about families, asked about the possibility of work.

It could have been a scene from the Depression, but this was no dusty snapshot.

It was Friday morning at Rapture Church in Waysons Corner. And it is a scene that will be repeated this week, and every other Friday as long as the church's outreach program and the Anne Arundel County Food Bank can supply the food.

"We'd be hard pressed to be able to make it without this," said Sandy Davis, 51, who lives in a Lothian trailer home with her 73-year-old mother, Frances Louise Davis.

Between Sandy's job as a telephone solicitor and her mother's Social Security benefits, the women bring home about $1,400 a month, and half of that goes to pay for their trailer and the rent on their trailer lot.

Effie Kennedy, 68, lives on even less. Her monthly Social Security check totals $550. Without the food bank, she said, she would have to apply for food stamps.

Most of the Friday morning regulars at Rapture Church's food giveaways are senior citizens like Kennedy, or poor families with a lot of children, said Pat Coffman, the program's head volunteer.

Tina Boston, an Edgewater homemaker, made her first trip to the food giveaway Friday.

While she cradled 8-month-old Daniel to protect him from the wind that kept tugging at his blanket, 2-year-old Christin and FTC 3-year-old Jeremiah scrambled to fill plastic grocery sacks with white potatoes and yams.

Her son, William Jr., 13, and daughter, Amy, 6, were in school.

"This really helps, especially with big families," she said. "This is one of the greatest things around."

Boston said she has no idea how much her husband, William Sr., earns doing construction work, but to participate in the food giveaway a family of seven can earn no more than $34,245 annually.

"Every time we give somebody a bag of food, it frees them up to pay a doctor's bill or a phone bill. Or it gives them their only chance to eat," said Bruce Michalec, executive director of the Anne Arundel County Food Bank Inc., as he watched people leave the church toting bags stuffed with donated bread and other products.

The Rapture Church program is one of the food bank's 45-member agencies, and the only one that gets personal deliveries from Michalec.

Since he started the food bank in 1988 with a county grant, it has turned into a thriving nonprofit business serving an estimated 89,000 people each year on an annual budget of $87,600 and donations from the community.

From its headquarters in a 10,000-square-foot building on the grounds of the Crownsville Hospital Center, the food bank -- really more of an all-purpose resource now -- dispenses more than 900,000 pounds of food each year. It also distributes used clothing, furniture, appliances, even vehicles.

"You don't like to turn anything away," said Michalec. "People give me stuff because they know I don't sell it. I always find someone in need to give it to."

Many of the donations come from people such as Ellen Manion, who helped supervise a food drive at St. Mary's Elementary School in Annapolis on Friday morning.

As the Davises were getting ready to go to Rapture Church to pick up food, Manion's sons -- Kevin, 10, and Matthew, 7 -- were helping their Boy Scout troop load food donated by St. Mary's 915 students onto a 2 1/2 -ton National Guard truck.

"It's important to help people who don't have food," said Michael Colgan, 10, as he heaved a bag containing cereal, lentil soup and corn bread mix onto the truck.

The school's principal, Tim Lynch, said the school sponsors four or five food drives a year.

"It's an important part of our Catholic mission to train and teach and model community service to the children," Lynch said.

Friday's effort was one in a series of food drives organized to benefit the food bank.

From March 14 to 21, Postal Service employees in Anne Arundel County will take food to work as part of a campaign called "Harvest for the Hungry," and on April 4, the food bank is participating in the second annual "Hunger Takes No Holiday Walk-a-thon" -- modeled after the March of Dimes walk-a-thons.

To participate, or to donate items, time or money to the food bank, call 410-923-4255.

Pub Date: 3/01/98

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