The surplus food was all gone, and Carolyn Butler was sweeping up by 9:30 Thursday morning at the Annapolis Gardens Recreation Center.

"We opened at 8 and were done an hour later," said Butler, site coordinator at the public housing project for Operation Food Sharing.

Moments later, an elderly woman and a young girl came and quicklyleft, their shopping bag empty.

"It would be nice if we could getmore food," Butler said. "It's sad when it's 5 after 9 and we're outof this and out of that."

When mothers show up and have six or seven children to feed, some types of food go more quickly than others.One woman listed 11 people in her family and took away a pound of butter for each.

But nothing goes to waste, Butler said, noting thatpeople came from as far as Glen Burnie on their way to work.

Those first in line were happy to get 10 potatoes each -- not pounds, potatoes -- even though "a lot of them had little sprouts growing out ofthem," she said.

"We never turn anybody away," Butler said. "Theytake whatever's left."

In past years, when the farmers' surpluseswere bigger, Butler said as many as 200 families received food. Thistime, the proj

ect's Planning Action Council volunteers only had enough for 70 households.

But the PAC made sure to set aside nine bags of groceries for delivery to elderly and disabled residents who couldn't make it to the recreation center.

Single women head most Annapolis public housing families, sometimes with four generations ina six-room apartment. These are the people county Food Bank DirectorBruce Michalec says "are locked in" to the various welfare programs that pay for rent, foodand medical aid.

And when the welfare safety net doesn't stretch far enough, social service providers often makeup the difference.

Butler and other volunteers try to fill in thegaps for missing or working parents in the Annapolis Housing Authority projects.

The PAC organized a field trip earlier this month forteen-agers to see "New Jack City," a new movie that recounts the rise and fall of an inner-city drug lord.

When actor Wesley Snipes finally was gunned down, Butler recalls, "Everybody clapped, and I was so glad because I was hoping nobody would say, 'I want to be just like him.' "

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