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Saunders: Life can change quickly — help Carroll County Food Sunday help those in need

From Carroll County Food Sunday's Facebook page.
From Carroll County Food Sunday's Facebook page. (Courtesy photo)

Life changes quickly and the decades fly by! Here it is 2020 already. Weren’t we just worried about Y2K and the apocalypse in 2000?

With a new decade must come new challenges and new adventures. As of December 2019 my three-year tenure as chair of the Commission on Aging & Disabilities came to an end after six years on the Commission. What a marvelous experience working with Celene Steckel and her staff at the Bureau of Aging & Disabilities.

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After being on the Carroll County Food Sunday Board for a year, January 2020 began my new challenge as president of that Board and following the exemplary model of Lisa Monthley. Under the expert guidance of Executive Director Ed Leister and the hard work of Food Bank Administrator Dennis Fahey — the only two paid part-time employees — Carroll County Food Sunday operates its campuses in Westminster, Eldersburg and Taneytown efficiently and effectively.

The year 2019 saw some amazing statistics being reached by Food Sunday to feed those in our communities who are in need. For example, Food Sunday handled 18,172 total household requests for assistance; of that number, 353 were new families. Per week, Food Sunday served an average of 355 families, or 906 people per week. By age group, one-third were children under 19, one-third were over 60, and the other one-third ranged in age from 20 to 59.

For some of these individuals and households, as for all of us, life changes quickly. Not surprisingly, some lose jobs for various reasons, some must rely only on minimum Social Security, and some face separation and divorce leaving them with little or no income. On the positive side, Carroll County Food Sunday was there in 2019 to help.

That help even included special, wholesome meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas. For Thanksgiving, Food Sunday supplied ingredients for a complete Thanksgiving meal, including turkeys, to 600 families. At Christmas, chicken and beef roasts were given to 500 families.

To deal with the volume of food needed — that is the 46,234 household size portions — Carroll County Food Sunday purchased 176,932 pounds of food (88.4 tons) at a cost of $277,282. That total included the Farmers’ Market Voucher Program ($66,514), milk purchases ($52,515), eggs ($15,047 because they have gone down in price), and other groceries ($143,206 for meats and staples). The Maryland Food Bank, Sauders’ Eggs, and Millers Grocery are the main sources for food purchases.

These purchases were bolstered by all the wonderful donated food from many sources, which in 2019 amounted to 84,662 pounds, or 42.3 tons. Of that total, many churches, businesses, schools, clubs, and organizations gave 64,709 pounds of food.

The Boy Scouts always give the largest portion of what they gather at their food drives to Carroll County Food Sunday, which in 2019 amounted to 15,320 pounds of food. On a certain Saturday, Food Sunday closes to allow troop members to receive the food at the dock, sort and package the food they have collected, a tremendous help in volunteer service.

In fact, Carroll County Food Sunday could not fulfill its obligation to clients without the expert and timely help of its volunteers at Distillery Drive in Westminster, St. Joseph Catholic Church in Eldersburg, and St. Joseph Catholic Church in Taneytown. For 2019, volunteers gave 8,171 hours at these three sites!

In Taneytown alone, Food Sunday boasts four people who have given a total of 75 years volunteering. They are Fran Krajewski, Dorothy Hostetter, Pat Carr, and Ed Kirby. Congratulations to these dedicated individuals!

While statistics are good to know because they make the case for Carroll County Food Sunday’s needed help, they do not tell the whole story. Volunteers are part of the rest of the story because they are on the front lines meeting needs and serving. But what about those who give of their treasure to keep the doors of Food Sunday open to serve clients?

Here is a letter that I think will make the point beautifully. Money was collected at the family reunion at Thanksgiving. The writer says, “I am pleased to present the enclosed check to Carroll County Food Sunday. ... With the majority of our surviving members having grown up in poverty with food and housing insecurities, we could not think of a more worthy organization to give our donation to. … Gratefully, we were able to work our way out of poverty. ... We hope that our contribution … will help support those in need in Carroll County.”

While the trend in contributions is down, largely because of the tax laws, 2019 still saw over $309,800 raised for Food Sunday in greatly appreciated contributions, with another $28,124 from the Times’ Holiday Hope campaign. Grants in the amount of $69,000 also helped immensely.

Do not be complacent about this amount of money as Food Sunday must always keep reserves for the lean years and for unforeseen emergencies. Even as you are reading this column, the Department of Agriculture is cutting food stamps from those who do work. That’s when Carroll County Food Sunday becomes a life-line to another group of underserved and underprivileged.

In this new decade of 2020, will you be someone who matters in the lives of those who are struggling? Will you become a part of Carroll County Food Sunday? Will you serve as a volunteer? Will you be a donor to meet the needs of someone less fortunate than you?

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Food Sunday’s latest Facebook page says it best.

“If you can’t feed 100 people, then feed just one.” — Mother Teresa.

Hermine Saunders writes from Westminster. Her Prime column appears on the second Sunday of the month.

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