As I sit down to write this column I am pondering what to write about that would suit the month of November, the month of Thanksgiving. I could answer the question whether I’ve gotten back to the gym yet. You will be surprised that I had my doctor complete the form giving his permission for me to be so engaged. And I started the very next day! No more thinking like Garfield when asked if he thought everyone has a purpose: “Absolutely! Mine is to keep the donut population under control.”
Rather, I choose to write about Carroll County Food Sunday (CCFS), having been inspired by one of their recent fundraising events, Dinner at the Captain’s Table and Silent Auction, held at Carroll Lutheran Village. Food Sunday operates to take care of people who are food-insecure right here in Carroll County. And they do it with minimal staff but many volunteers. What better group to give thanks for — a group that can be relied on to help the needy among us as the need arises.
And the need among all Marylanders must be significant as reported by a United Way of Central Maryland study in September that indicated some 38 percent of Maryland families “cannot afford basic necessities, such as housing, transportation, food and child care.” Even those that work must make over $69,000 a year just to support a survival budget for a family of four. In Carroll County that figure is $78,000.
Carroll County Food Sunday numbers are certainly indicative of the need right here at home. Average requests per day for assistance through Aug. 31, 2018 have totaled 59.85, for a total of 11,552 requests through the same time frame. For all of 2017, CCFS distributed 8,000 pounds of food per week to about 400 families. Those figures are staggering when one realizes that Food Sunday is a tax-exempt nonprofit, run by a volunteer board, two part-time employees, and hundreds of other volunteers. Food Sunday is dependent upon support from fundraisers, like the aforementioned dinner, Holiday Hope through Carroll County Times, Runnymede Elementary School Walk; local businesses; grants; service clubs and churches; and most surely from individual donors who give non-perishable food items and money.
Money raised is used to purchase $120,000 for food (mainly meat) from the Maryland Food Bank, $30,000 for fresh eggs, $70,000 for milk vouchers, $80,000 for Farmers Market vouchers, and $40,000 for food from a local supermarket. This $340,000 is a large part of the 2018 budget of $511,100.
Ed Leister, Executive Director of Food Sunday and a man passionate about its work, says that “Carroll County Food Sunday aids retirees living on modest fixed incomes, the physically and cognitively impaired, the unemployed or under-employed, families affected by any number of unexpected life challenges.” He also sees “young mothers who are in dire need.” Moreover, he notes that “a sickness or an emergency expense can make the difference between having to decide between food and medicine or rent and utilities.”
Ed recounted a story of a husband and wife who both worked for the same employer and lost their jobs when the business was closed without warning. They asked if they could receive groceries until they found new employment. They were so thankful for the help and have been loyal donors since they found new jobs.
In all these situations, Ed indicates that Food Sunday’s mission is “to provide emergency supplemental food weekly in a manner that enhances human dignity.” It is organized to respond “proactively instead of reactively,” meaning that it strives to keep the shelves and larders well stocked to keep up with demand.
Food Sunday’s main location open to serve residents is Central Operations Warehouse at 10 Distillery Drive in Westminster with hours on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Eldersburg (hours on Wednesday), and St. Johseph’s Catholic Church in Taneytown (hours on Thursday) are also available to serve clients. Food Sunday also operates The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) in Carroll County.
Established in 1982 by Dominic Jollie, with the Star of David combined with the Cross of Christ in its logo, Food Sunday still lives by Jollie’s words and example: “For the sake of human decency, feeding the poor and the hungry people of Carroll County must be a concern for all of us who are not hungry. To know hunger exists and to do nothing is the shame and bane of human life.” He called it Food Sunday because he asked his church to bring food to feed the hungry on Sundays, and soon other churches collected food on Sundays for Mr. Jollie’s program.
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Whether you are a recipient, a donor, a volunteer, this Thanksgiving you can be thankful for the work of Carroll County Food Sunday. Please know that recipients are so thankful for the Food Sunday Thanksgiving dinner that includes a 10 to 12-pound turkey, something these folks would not enjoy without the help of donors and volunteers. Let us be neighbors helping neighbors by continuing to help Food Sunday fulfill its mission!