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Hogan, Franchot serve hungry at Our Daily Bread

Gov. Larry Hogan has staked out a reputation as a fiscal conservative, but he spent Tuesday morning doling out liberal portions of chicken-and-rice casserole at Our Daily Bread in Baltimore.

The Republican governor joined Democratic Comptroller Peter Franchot and both of their wives as volunteers on the serving line at the Catholic Charities food program in a bipartisan show of Thanksgiving spirit.

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As Hogan and Franchot's wife, Anne Maher, spooned generous portions of the main course onto diners' plates, first lady Yumi Hogan measured out small portions of mixed vegetables.

"They were skimping on the veggies for our folks, but they had plenty of chicken and rice. They told us to load 'em up," Hogan said after about 50 minutes of serving.

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Hogan's visit continues a bipartisan tradition of governors volunteering at Our Daily Bread at Thanksgiving. Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley made it a regular stop during his eight years in office. Spokesmen for Hogan and Franchot said the governor came along at the invitation of the comptroller, his mostly reliable ally on the Board of Public Works.

When Hogan arrived at Our Daily Bread's headquarters on the Fallsway, he was greeted by Archbishop William E. Lori and Bill McCarthy, executive director of Catholic Charities.

"It looks like you haven't missed a beat," Lori told Hogan, who appeared haler than he did when he announced last week that he was cancer-free after months of chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"My color's back in my face," Hogan told Lori before the two exchanged reminiscences of Pope Francis' visit in September.

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Before they moved inside, McCarthy briefed Hogan and Franchot on the history of Our Daily Bread. He said it was founded in 1981 at Franklin Street and Park Avenue downtown and hasn't missed serving a meal since. Eight years ago, it moved into its current facility across the Jones Falls Expressway from downtown.

McCarthy said the charity has served about 7 million meals in that time, using the free food as a way to bring people into its training and employment programs.

"The whole point is getting people a hand up," McCarthy said.

Hogan and Franchot donned aprons and baseball caps before taking their place in the serving line. Lori, in similar garb, waited on tables.

Richard "Woody" Woods, who volunteers every Tuesday, said Hogan was catching on quickly.

"He'd doing quite well. With more experience, he'll be perfect," Woods said.

In joining together to serve several hundred hungry diners, Hogan and Lori put aside their disagreement over whether Maryland should welcome or discourage refugees from the Syrian civil war from resettling here.

Questioned on his arrival, Hogan said he was not impressed by the Obama administration's reassurances about its procedures for vetting the refugees to make sure terrorists don't take advantage of the resettlement program.

"It wasn't much of a response," Hogan said. Last week, he requested that no Syrian refugees be sent to Maryland until he received reassurances they were being properly screened. The administration's reply, he said, was "just a rehashing of what the old policy was."

Lori, meanwhile, reaffirmed the Maryland Catholic Conference's willingness to help as many of the refugees as it can.

"We're hoping, we're praying ... as a country we will remain a place of welcome and will not let fear deter us," he said.

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