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Food Resources Inc. forced to cut back

July 29, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- The distribution of food for some of Washington County's neediest residents has been cut back until Aug. 10, said Ruth Anne Callaham, executive director of Food Resources Inc.

"We are that low that I couldn't fill orders," Callaham said, noting the drastic limitations -- the first in her six years at the central food warehouse -- began July 20.

Callaham hopes to stockpile enough food by Aug. 10 to restore allotments to near-normal levels.

Hardest hit are the 600 households participating in Food Resources' brown bag program, Callaham said.

"We are their No. 1 source for food and we have had to drop them from 75 pounds to 40 pounds of food a month," she said

Those people are being advised to acquire eligibility cards from the Community Action Council of Washington County so they can get food from area food banks.

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The 300 senior citizens and disabled people who participate in Food Resources' Pantry on Wheels are unaffected since the money used to take care of their food needs comes from gaming money, the United Way and several charitable foundations, Callaham said.

Day-care providers who get food from Food Resources are seeing some cutbacks.

Food Resources also serves 25 food programs, most of which are in Washington County, including food pantries, soup kitchens and after-school food giveaways. Two or three programs in Frederick County, Md., and one in Greencastle, Pa., also get some food from Food Resources.

"They are affected by this cutback, but they are still getting food from other sources," Callaham said.

Food Resources' major supplier of free and reduced price food is the Maryland Food Bank, which isn't getting the food in the quantities it has in better times, Callaham said.

There is some food on hand at Food Resources' 12,000-square-foot warehouse at 220 McRand Court west of Hagerstown.

"Tuesday afternoon, we got truckloads containing 30,000 pounds of salvage food from the Maryland Food Bank and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank," Callaham said.

Salvage food consists of reclaimed products from food stores, such as items past the "best if bought by" dates or items that were taken off store shelves after promotional sales ended.

That supply will help ease the shortages for a while, but won't solve the larger problem, which corresponds with the shaky economy and high unemployment rates, Callaham said.

A check with The Salvation Army at 534 W. Franklin St. in Hagerstown revealed the agency is able to meet the needs of its regular clients, Major Robert Lyle said.

"Our shelves are pretty good right now," Lyle said Tuesday.

The agency has received food from regular contributors and also is buying from local stores.

"We can continue," Lyle said.

A food bank sponsored by the Clear Spring Lions Club at St. Peter's Lutheran Church at 30 S. Martin St. in Clear Spring operates Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 2 p.m.

"The needs are great for the people in this area and that's who we serve," said Harry Bryan, who coordinates the food bank in Clear Spring. "We go from week to week."

While some of the food items at one time were purchased from Food Resources and the Maryland Food Bank, Bryan said the bulk of the supplies at the Clear Spring food bank now come from donations from individuals, churches and groups.

Unlike Food Resources, the Community Food Bank at St. Mark's Lutheran Church at 601 Washington Ave. in Hagerstown is enjoying an unusual cycle of plenty this summer, director Beth Stouffer said.

"We're in good shape," she said. "We've been getting donated meat and chicken, and St. Mary's Catholic Church just brought over a bunch of food."

A number of stores donate products, and that, too, is helping to fill the shelves. All who seek food at the Community Food Bank, which is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 1 to 3 p.m., must have eligibility cards issued by the Community Action Council.

Local residents, churches and organizations can help Food Resources by donating money and boxed and canned goods, Callaham said.

"We also accept and will pick up local produce," she said.

For more information on Food Resources' needs and how to contribute, call 301-733-4002.

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