Marylanders choosing food over other expenses, report says

February 02, 2010|By Brent Jones | brent.jones@baltsun.com | Baltimore Sun reporter

About 32 percent of clients served by the Maryland Food Bank reported having to choose between buying food or paying for utilities at some point last year, according to a study released Tuesday morning as part of a national survey.

The report, conducted by Feeding America, the parent organization for the Maryland Food Bank, interviewed more than 62,000 clients nationwide, including several thousands in the state. Among some of the findings: &bul;27 percent of households served by the food bank have children under 18; &bul;about 9 percent of those households have individuals 65 and older; and &bul;63 percent of clients have incomes below the federal poverty level.

Deborah Flateman, chief executive officer for the Maryland Food Bank, said the numbers are in line with what the agency sees from its partner organizations.

The food bank serves 261,000 people a year.

"We know not only more people need assistance, we also know the people who need help now were gainfully employed," she said. "They're going to get food for the first time in their lives."

Flateman said she will use the report to help shape the organization's agenda for the remainder of this year, which will continue to target seniors.

The Maryland Food Bank in 2008 gave away 16.7 million pounds of food and close to 18 million pounds last year. Officials from the food bank are opening a 6,000-square-foot kitchen this spring that will allow the nonprofit to turn fresh donations from area markets into about 1 million free meals a year.

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