Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008

Open Forum: Hunger exists in Frederick County

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Hunger exists in Frederick County, and the Frederick Community Action Agency is working diligently to address both the emergency needs of hungry families and the underlying issues of poverty and homelessness.

But financial help and food donations are needed in order to maintain the operation of the agency’s soup kitchen and foodbank programs.

In continuous operation since 1984, the agency’s soup kitchen serves a hot evening meal, seven nights a week, 365 days a year to as many as 110 hungry people. The soup kitchen serves more than 22,000 nutritious meals annually through the efforts of a paid cook and more than 200 dedicated volunteers.

Monetary donations are needed to continue to operate the soup kitchen. Contributions will be used to pay the cook's salary and to purchase necessary food items for the free evening meal.

The foodbank, in operation since 1983, provides a three- to five-day supply of food to families and individuals who are facing an economic crisis and cannot afford to buy their groceries.

Many of the families served through the foodbank are low-income and struggle each and every month to afford both the rent and the groceries for their families.

The foodbank serves between 350 and 450 families each month; families are permitted to use the foodbank twice a month or more often in the event of an emergency.

Tax-deductible donations will be used to purchase food and to help cover the operating costs associated with running a large foodbank.

In 2006, the agency opened the George L. Shields Foodbank Facility at 14 E. All Saints St., Frederick, and that renovated building provides areas for food distribution, dry storage, frozen storage, and a large multi-purpose room that is used as a waiting area, classroom and meeting room.

Over the years, the soup kitchen and foodbank have operated, almost exclusively, through donations and contributions.

At present, the soup kitchen and foodbank programs are in dire need of monetary donations to support ongoing operations.

The goal for this fundraiser is $80,000, which will support program operations through 2008.

Any additional money that is raised will be used to support the operation of other agency programs, such as the primary health care clinic. Please help to keep the soup kitchen and the foodbank open and operational by mailing your contribution to the Frederick Community Action Agency, 100 S. Market St., Frederick, MD 21701.

Donations are tax-deductible and checks should be made payable to Friends for Neighborhood Progress — the tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation that sponsors the work of the Frederick Community Action Agency.

Through a wide array of programs and services, the Frederick Community Action Agency provides food, shelter, medical care, housing, transportation, and other forms of assistance to help families and individuals that are low-income or homeless.

In operation since 1968, the Frederick Community Action Agency is sponsored by the City of Frederick and Friends for Neighborhood Progress with support from the Frederick County government and the United Way of Frederick County.

For more information call me at 301-600-1506 or e-mail me at mspurrier@cityoffrederick.com. Additional information is also available on our Web site at www.cityoffrederick.com⁄fcaa.

Mike Spurrier, Frederick

The writer is director of the Frederick Community Action Agency.