Postal workers to collect food


With food supplies low after heavy demand during winter, officials at the Maryland Food Bank are hoping to receive a special delivery from Maryland letter carriers this week.

Today through March 25, more than 2,800 postal workers will accept food donations such as canned meats, soups and vegetables while they are making their regular mail deliveries. Nonperishable foods also can be dropped off at post offices to be delivered to the Maryland Food Bank, a nonprofit group supplying 900 local programs that feed the poor.

"The hunger is there; the need is there," said Richard W. Rudez, customer service manager for the U.S. Postal Service in Baltimore. "We see the need everyday. We live in the communities and we want to give back."

Noting the cuts that Congress is making in social services budgets, food bank Executive Director Bill Ewing said yesterday that he hopes the collections will allow the bank to fill its cupboards for the summer. The bank's shelves are only 20 percent full, he said.

"We're dangerously low," he said. "This drive is important."

"The emotional impact now is devastating to the volunteers who are working out there," he said. "When they see a successful effort like this, it gives them spirit."

The Maryland letter carriers' 1994 drive, which was extended because of the harsh weather, netted 600,000 pounds of food.

Another postal food drive will be held May 13, said John Budzynski, a customer service manager in Baltimore County. That's when the National Association of Letter Carriers, the postal workers' union, will hold a nationwide, one-day drive.

Volunteers lent their personal stories to the campaign during a kickoff rally yesterday at the food bank headquarters in West Baltimore. "We get hungry people calling from all over the city," said Margaret Moneymaker, who distributes food at New Hope Church of God in Dundalk. "Since last year, we've given out more food, and they still call begging. We really need to get out and work."

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