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Monthly food pantry helps stretch seniors' dollars

December 15, 2012|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Wendy Barrick, right, outreach coordinator for Maryland Food Bank helps Betty Wolfe with food items at Francis Murphy Senior Apartments on Friday. The food bank delivered food to the residents as part of their Pantry Program.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

Some came with small collapsible shopping carts, others carried shopping bags, a few others needed walkers and they waited to do some grocery shopping at the Francis Murphy Senior Apartments east of Hagerstown.

Thirty-five hundred pounds of food — bananas, fresh meat and vegetables, potatoes, canned fruit and vegetables, English muffins, peanut butter and jelly, pasta and more — were arranged on tables waiting for the residents to circle the room and make their selections.

“We try to get a really good mix of things that would be in your cupboard or my cupboard,” said Matt Thompson, the managing director for the Maryland Food Bank — Western Branch.

Friday was the second monthly food pantry at the Housing Authority of Washington County apartment complex where 126 seniors reside, Property Manager Pam Schnebly said. For senior citizens on a limited budget, the pantry can mean the difference between making a choice between food and medicine or having both, she said.

“Only about 30 percent of eligible seniors actually get some kind of government assistance for their food,” Thompson said.

“This is a population that has worked their whole life and have contributed to the system,” Thompson said. “Now, they are just not able to access that help for one reason or another.”

Citi Financial provided the grant for the program, Thompson said.

“Enough that we can do this for the entire year ... $10,000,” Thompson said of the grant.

While the pallets of food were off-loaded from a truck by Maryland Food Bank workers, the pantry itself is run by volunteers who live in the apartments, Thompson said.

“There’s a lot of fun, a lot of excitement here,” Thompson said.

A resident for 10 years, Cora Farquharson is retired from Citi and was one of the volunteers, stacking food on the tables and helping neighbors find what they needed.

“This is a wonderful program,” said Farquharson, noting that it helps many at the complex stretch their budgets so they can afford medicine or other necessities. “I think everyone should share.”

“I hear they have a bunch of stuff in there today that will help people out,” said Lucille Fitzwater, a resident of more than four years.

“I love it,” Fitzwater said. “For me, I don’t have to go out to the store.”

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