Stores, others bring donated food to the table

April 03, 2011|By DON AINES |
  • Danny Gossard, warehouse manager, puts food on a shelf Friday at Food Resources Inc. in Hagerstown.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Danny Gossard unloaded two pallets of Cheez-It crackers — more than half a ton — Friday at the Food Resources Inc. warehouse in Hagerstown.

The shipment had been rejected by a company because of damage in shipping, one pallet showing a number of boxes crunched on one side, but the other almost pristine.

Merchandise rejected by grocery stores, distribution centers and other businesses help fill the shelves at the warehouse, said Executive Director Ruth Anne Callaham.

One recent “turnback,” as Callaham called it, involved 3,000 pounds of rice in large sacks. Volunteers from the Wal-Mart Distribution Center came to the warehouse and broke the load down into more family-friendly, 1-pound bags, she said.

A major part of the inventory at Food Resources is provided by the federal government, said Callaham, who is also a Washington County Commissioner. The USDA distributes surplus commodities through nonprofit organizations such as Feeding America to organizations like the Maryland Food Bank, which in turn distributes the products to Food Resources and other nonprofits, she said.

From the Food Resources warehouse, the products are distributed to more than 20 food banks and food pantries in Washington County and a few outside the county, said Program Director Ed Kennedy. Last year, Food Resources distributed 1.6 million pounds of food to those church and community-run food banks, up from 1.5 million pounds the previous year, he said.

Those food banks have their own food drives to keep their shelves stocked. In March the Leather Necks motorcycle club collected several hundred pounds of food for the Willamsport Food Bank, said Leigh Ann Stotelmyer, the acting food bank director there.

“We are fortunate that we are supported by all the different churches in the area, and we get donations of cash and food on a regular basis,” Stotelmyer said in an email. That has kept the Willamsport Food Bank, housed at Zion Lutheran Church, well supplied despite 2010 being “the busiest year we ever had,” she said.

Many food banks have arrangements with businesses for surplus food, said Washington County Community Action Council Executive Director David Jordan. The council’s food bank, for example, receives surplus pastries from Starbucks and food from Chipotle Mexican Grill on a regular basis.

“Food Lion donates on an almost weekly basis” to Food Resources, Kennedy said. That includes meat, produce and baked goods, he said.

Food drives bring in tons of goods every year, Gossard said. First Data collected about 10 tons before the holidays and the U.S. Postal Service drive coming in May likely will bring in about 10,000 pounds of food, he said.

People often think about donating canned goods, but Kennedy said boxed goods such as pasta, rice, oatmeal, baking mixes and dried beans also should be considered.

Organizations like Farmers Feeding the Hungry also contribute to food banks, and Kennedy said corn, green beans, tomatoes and other produce come from Celebration Farm near Maugansville.

Celebration Ministries and volunteers will begin planting as soon as the fields are dry enough, Kennedy said.

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