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New Food Resources director sets busy, ambitious agenda

June 24, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - As John Christy takes over as executive director of Food Resources Inc. in Washington County, he knows he has a big job ahead of him.

"We want to expand the area we serve and we also want to increase what we have to offer," Christy said.

Widening FRI's range into Frederick County, Md., is high on the list. Christy said there is no comparable agency in that county even though it is larger than Washington County.

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Now located on McRand Court west of Hagerstown, FRI is a nonprofit agency that provides more than 55 member organizations in Washington County with free food for low-income residents.

"Increasing the amount of fresh produce is another tough problem we want to address," Christy said. From time to time, fresh produce finds its way to FRI via the Maryland Food Bank but lately that supply has been shrinking.

Christy said he would like to tap into the county's wealth of homegrown agricultural products but isn't sure how that would work.

"A food rescue program is also being explored," Christy said. That entails working with grocery stores to secure frozen and fresh meats that will be thrown out on a certain date.

"If we can get them and freeze them by that date or keep them frozen here, then we would be able to distribute those products to people," Christy said.

As for frozen vegetables, Christy said many grocery stores completely replace all their supplies about four times a year. If FRI could be there for that, poor families in Washington County would be able to share in that bounty.

"FRI has refrigerator trucks and huge freezer capacity here at the warehouse," Christy said.

By far, the most ambitious expansion being studied is a plan to increase collection of non-food items, such as furniture and other household items.

"When we do get stuff like that from time to time, it's gone in an instant," Christy said. "Maybe we could be a clearinghouse for those kinds of things."

A native of Wisconsin, Christy spent a lot of time moving all around because of his dad's military career. But when the family settled down, it was in Hagerstown where Christy attended and graduated from North Hagerstown High School, then graduated from Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Coming to FRI from previous jobs at group homes and churches, he is the son of Carl Christy of Hagerstown.

He is married and has three children.

"I'm just happy to be involved in and for Washington County," Christy said.

Brad Sell, who directed FRI for five years, was recently appointed executive director of the Community Foundation of Washington County.

For more information on FRI's mission or how to volunteer, call 301-733-4002.

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