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Food bank needs help as supplies dwindle

September 08, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

Growing numbers of people in need have prompted the 27-year-old Community Food Bank in Hagerstown to turn to the community for help.

The food bank has less than a week's supplies and has been forced to quit providing milk for children, Food Bank Director Beth Stouffer said Tuesday.

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The food "is not going to last," Stouffer said.

The Food Bank provides three to five days' supply of food to needy residents who are referred by local agencies.

Stouffer pointed to empty shelves, which usually hold peanut butter and other products, and shook her head.

"These are usually packed," she said.

The Food Bank is run out of St. Mark's Lutheran Church basement and gets regular donations from other local churches.

Donations have remained steady, but demand continues to increase, due in part to more young, needy families moving to the area, Stouffer said.

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The Food Bank rarely asks the community for additional help and has turned down offers when it is doing well, Stouffer said.

But the staff is hoping for more donations to take them through Thanksgiving, when food donations traditionally increase, Stouffer said.

"I hope a little publicity will bring in a little extra," she said.

Only once before, about 15 years ago, has the food bank's supply of food been so short, according to Stouffer.

Cuts in food stamps and welfare are also a factor, she said. Some people have lost all those benefits, she said.

The Food Bank expects to give food to a record 15,000 people this year, Stouffer said. Last year about 14,000 received food, she said.

The Food Bank usually has been able to stockpile food during the summer to carry over the winter, she said. But now as many people need help in the summer as in the winter, she said.

The Food Bank handed out more food this summer than any other summer, she said.

Stouffer said the shortage exists despite a low unemployment rate in Washington County

These are supposed to be the good times, but many people have low-paying service jobs or are working one or two part-time jobs, she said.

"These are the great times for some people," she said.

One person picking up food Tuesday was Sharon Thompson of Boonsboro, a single mother raising two children while unemployed.

"I think it is a great place. It really helps people," Thompson said.




Food and/or money can be donated directly to the Community Food Bank at St. Mark's Lutheran Church at 601 W. Washington St.

For information call the church at 301 733-7550 or Director Beth Stouffer at 301-739-6795.

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