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Our View: Carroll County rallying to support those in need of food

More than 1 in 9 Maryland residents are food insecure, according to the Maryland Food Bank. And that was before the coronavirus pandemic began costing hard-working people their jobs. More than a month into it, food insecurity is nothing short of a crisis, even in Carroll County. Luckily, numerous groups are doing something about that.

Carroll County Public Schools began providing meals to anyone under 18 — not just CCPS students — from the day schools closed and serves thousands every day, a tremendous help.

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But, as Commissioner Ed Rothstein recently told us regarding a food drive he’s involved with, “It’s not for the government to lead, it’s got to be community-driven.”

And the community is coming through, figuring out ways to get food to those who need it while respecting social distancing requirements.

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Carroll County Food Sunday recently got back in the business of distributing food thanks to a partnership with Grace Lutheran Church, in Westminster. Anyone in need can receive items collected as part of Grace Lutheran’s food drive, combined with items supplied by Food Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays. Food is loaded by volunteers into the trunks of those who need it in the church’s parking lot at 21 Carroll St.

Grace Lutheran began taking food donations on April 17, and plans to do so from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday going forward, according to Ann Gilbert, organizer of the drive. Gilbert noted that while some loaded up on food initially, “that two-week supply is starting to dwindle and if they’re not working, that $1,200 stimulus is probably going to go to their mortgage or their rent. They still need money for food.” Anyone interested in donating or volunteering can reach Gilbert by email at athomas3g@gmail.com.

The Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) of South Carroll County held drive-thru food pantries at churches in Gamber and Eldersburg on Sunday with enough food to dole out 20 pounds to some 150 families. The group was initiated by Rothstein and state Sen. Katie Fry Hester, who represents legislative District 9, about a month ago. They put together a survey that showed food to be the dominant need of the community.

“We just wanted to have an immediate quick win to show that by working together, we could deliver services to people in need in a very quick fashion,” Fry Hester said.

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Beth Gray, a member of the COAD team, noted that the organization has helped jumpstart the St. Joseph’s Catholic Community food pantry, which will hold modified pop-up pantries [on] two consecutive Saturdays, May 2 and May 9. from noon to 2 p.m.

On Monday, the Babylon Vault Company, a family-owned Carroll County business of 90 years, set up a trailer at its New Windsor plant in hopes it will be filled with donations. As the trailer is filled, company employees will take the donations to local food pantries. The trailer is accessible for drop-offs 24 hours per day, seven days a week at at the corner of Md. 31 and Wakefield Valley Road.

“We wanted to respect the state-mandated guidelines of social distancing through a no-contact drop-off. That’s how we came up with the stuff-a-trailer angle. We want people to drive up, drop off and drive on," said Donna Babylon.

Babylon is working with eight food pantries that serve all ZIP codes in the county. Businesses, veteran organizations and civic groups interested in joining the company’s mission can call 410-848-0393.

For the North Carroll area, a “Home Pickup Food Drive” by the Lineboro-Manchester Lions Club and the Hampstead Lions Club is set for Saturday, May 2, starting at 10 a.m., to benefit North Carroll communities.

To avoid personal contact, Lions will come straight to any house wishing to donate in the 21102 or 21074 ZIP code. Email lionshomepickupfooddrive@gmail.com or call/text 443-789-1486 to have a house put on the pickup list. The drive is accepting food items and cleaning supplies.

It is heartening to see what local individuals and groups are doing to feed their friends and neighbors. We urge anyone who is able to help out.

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