Survey of 395 of Maryland's hungry says 17% are homeless and 16% are elderly

March 11, 1998|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,SUN STAFF

Many of the unemployed and working poor are hungry and outside the mainstream, but not necessarily homeless, the Maryland Food Bank said yesterday.

As part of a 1997 national study released yesterday, the bank interviewed at random 395 people statewide using emergency food providers it served. It also received 269 questionnaires filled out by the food pantries, shelters and food kitchens.

Among key findings about the Maryland hungry:

76 percent of the unemployed clients were seeking employment.

41 percent lived in a household with someone who had a job, and 58 percent of those jobs were full time.

17 percent were homeless.

16 percent were 65 and older.

31 percent were children 17 or younger.

25 percent were disabled.

4 percent have bachelor's or graduate degrees.

"A growing number of skilled workers in Maryland need support," said Bill Ewing, the bank's executive president.

"The people who need this food have no discretionary income, no choices. For a variety of reasons, they can't live the quality of life lived by most Americans."

The needy had different circumstances: 51 percent needed emergency food because they had too little income from work; 50 percent were recently unemployed; 41 percent had an emergency or crisis; 30 percent cited an illness; 30 percent cited a disability; 22 percent had high fixed expenses.

The annual household income of 68 percent of those surveyed was less than $10,000.

Chris Reuwer is pastor of Freedom Christian Church, which runs an emergency food pantry in Eldersburg. "The gap widens between the haves and the have-nots. We have the have-nots in Carroll County as in other suburbs," he said. "There are poor people hurting all over Maryland, not just in the inner city."

The findings were among many reported yesterday in a 200-page report, "Hunger: The Faces and Facts," the second national survey of hunger by Second Harvest. A network of 185 food banks including the Maryland Food Bank, it is described as the nation's largest charitable hunger relief group.

Seventy food banks, including Maryland Food Bank, took part in the new study. In January and February 1997, they interviewed 28,000 people who get emergency food given out by 11,000 street-level groups.

Second Harvest hired the VanAmburg Group Inc. of Erie, Pa., to help conduct the survey. The firm said it has a "95 percent confidence level" in the findings.

For copies of the executive summaries of both the national and Maryland reports, call 410-947-0404.

Pub Date: 3/11/98

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