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Food Resources revamps guidelines

May 20, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

In a continuing effort to secure more food for more people, Food Resources Inc. of Washington County is aligning its Brown Bag program income eligibility guidelines with those of the federal Women, Infants and Children program.

Starting in July, the income guidelines for Food Resources will go from $16,391 to $16,613 for a family of one, matching the WIC program.

"It makes perfect sense," said Food Resources Director Ruth Anne Callaham. "And especially now that school is about to end and so many school-age children will not be able to participate in the school breakfast/lunch program."

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WIC guidelines are recalculated each year to adjust for cost of living, and Food Resources guidelines now will increase with them, Callaham said.

"It is our hope that now more people will qualify for our Brown Bag program and get the assistance in obtaining food that they need," she said.

WIC guidelines were chosen because many of the participants in the Brown Bag program are women with children. Food Resources wants to increase the availability of "children friendly" measures, including food for day-care providers, Callaham said.

An alliance has been forged with America's Second Harvest, Callaham said. "Second Harvest has leverage nationwide with companies like Bristol Myers, which donate large quantities of products and we can get in on that," Callaham said.

Trucks are sent from Hagerstown to points in Pennsylvania and Tennessee, where the availability of Second Harvest food is more plentiful than from the Maryland Food Bank.

"The food bank in Baltimore often sells out before we can get there because the need in Baltimore is so great," Callaham said.

Much of the money used to purchase such food comes from regular donations that come in to Food Resources. "There are some very giving people who just send us a check routinely every month," Callaham said.

Callaham, who joined Food Resources in early February, said her short-term goals focus on bringing more food to more people for less money at a time when rising fuel prices are forcing some low-income wage earners to choose between filling their gas tanks and putting food on the table.

Callaham said the alliances with WIC and Second Harvest are part of her plan to strengthen partnerships with other agencies across the Tri-State area.

Eligible clients shop monthly at Food Resources. The Hagerstown-based nonprofit agency provides discounted food to more than 175 programs, Callaham said.

Groups or pods of families choose from a menu of available food and nonfood items. The families pay $9 per month for a 75- to 100-pound share of food and nonperishables, including canned and dry goods, fresh produce, frozen items and such household necessities as laundry detergent.

For more information, call 301-733-4002.

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