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Letter to the Editor - Dec. 8

December 08, 2011

Aren’t 30,000 hungry people too many?


To the editor:

An estimated 30,000 or more Washington County residents are suffering from hunger this year. Who are they? They include:

• Over 10,000 schoolchildren receiving free or reduced school meals, who are too often hungry during the summer months.

• The 11 percent of county residents with incomes below the federal poverty level.

• The 9.6 percent of county residents who are unemployed (September 2011), the third worst percentage in Maryland.

• Older adults and disabled individuals on low fixed incomes.

“Growing numbers of local people are in need of food assistance as the economy downturn continues, and agencies, nonprofit organizations and the faith-based community are hard-pressed to serve them,” says Lynn Jackson of Food Resources Inc., the regional food bank.

Even with over 20 food pantries operating around the county, demand for food strains available supplies. Hundreds of people line up for one-time Maryland Food Bank food drops when they are held in various locations. Food prices are rising. Medical experts agree that being hungry creates a domino effect of negative consequences, such as low birth weight, obesity, mental health issues, dental problems, poor education outcomes and long-term economic costs to our communities.

Local food drives are being organized to help feed the hungry, especially during the holidays. Washington County organizations serve free meals to as many as possible. But the needs of hungry families are far exceeding the current capacity of these generous groups and individuals to meet the year-round demand. And the numbers of hungry residents will continue to grow until the economy recovers.

How can you help? Food Resources, Inc. continues to need contributions of food and monetary resources. Food can be delivered and checks mailed to Food Resources, Inc., 220 McRand Court, Hagerstown, MD 21740.  Support also can be provided to your local food pantry. For a listing, check the Food Resources website at www.foodresources.org.

Aren’t 30,000 hungry people way too many for a county with great capacity for caring? Let's all join together to make a difference in their lives.

 
Pam Christoffel for the Washington County Hunger Group

Community Action Council, Food Resources, Inc., United Way, REACH, the Local Management Board and individuals.

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