Cupboards are nearly empty at church food bank

June 25, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

A strike at one of the community's largest employers and unseasonably high demand have combined to send the food bank of Williamsport into a crisis situation that has nearly stripped its shelves, the director said Tuesday.

"I was warned but I almost dropped over," Mary Anna Kline said as she recalled her arrival Monday morning at the food bank at Zion Lutheran Church.

Kline said the cupboards were virtually bare of food, as a result of unusually high demand, which was complicated by the recent strike at Garden State Tanning.


"We need anything and everything - canned goods, dry goods and perishables, you name it," Kline said.

The food bank has refrigerator and freezer capacities for items that need to be kept cold.

The food bank at the 35 W. Potomac St. church has been serving the community of Williamsport for 30 years. Kline has been director for 22 years.

Traditionally, the food bank in Williamsport receives food collected by churches, organizations, clubs and citizens, Kline said.

Other people and groups contribute cash and checks so food bank personnel can buy bulk food from government warehouse programs and elsewhere to beef up the supplies.

Garden State Tanning in Williamsport and its workers have always been sources of contributions over the years, she said. The recent strike at the plant turned many of those contributors into food bank "customers" while they were out of work, Kline said.

"The demand really went up during and after the strike," Kline said. "We've had a lot of their people in here."

Money raised from the annual fund-raiser held every October is exhausted, Kline said. This year's event is nearly four months away.

In the meantime, Kline said she needs help from the community, the churches, the scouts - anyone who can help fill the shelves again.

The food bank of Williamsport is open Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon for picking up and dropping off food and household items.

Emergency needs can be met at other times by calling Zion Lutheran at 301-223-7260.

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