Normally, a summertime decline in donations to food banks and church pantries around the state is offset by a drop in demand. This year, the donations have followed their seasonal pattern, but there has been no matching drop in demand.
Many reasons are contributing to the increased need. The lackluster economy and the fact that jobless benefits have run out for unemployed workers are major factors. So is the fact that many children who get free breakfasts and lunch during the school year have no such help during the summer months. Regardless of the causes, the bottom line is that too many people are going hungry in Maryland.
Churches and food banks represent a last resort. Families turn to these services once they have exhausted other avenues for help -- when they are, in other words, truly desperate.
Lasting solutions to hunger will take concerted, long-range efforts, but individual contributions can make a real difference in the immediate crisis.
Responding to these needs, Steelworkers Local 2609, Allstate Insurances Claims Offices and WBAL-TV and WBAL-AM have announced emergency food drives. Local 2609 is collecting food at its union hall, located at 550 Dundalk Ave. through Aug. 29 (excluding Aug. 23).
Allstate and WBAL are operating four collection centers daily through Aug. 29. For directions to a center in Hunt Valley, Glen Burnie, White Marsh or Columbia, call the Maryland Food Bank at 947-4441.