ANNAPOLIS – A high-spirited group of federal, state, corporate and citizen groups announced their support for one of the largest food drives in Maryland history at a State House press conference Friday.
Led by founder Larry Adam, Harvest for the Hungry’s 18th annual effort aims to collect 500,000 pounds of food during the weeklong drive beginning Saturday.
Food supplies at Maryland charities are low now, said Bill Ewing, director of the Maryland Food Bank. Despite a recovering national economy, he said Maryland food charities are serving more hungry people than last year.
“Our Christmas supplies and holiday supplies are over and gone,” Ewing said.
Gov. Robert Ehrlich and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer brought some levity to the event, each chiding the other for his policies.
“I don’t like him,” Schaefer jested, “but he’s alright.”
Both leaders applauded the efforts to bring much-needed supplies to local food banks.
“There is a corporate culture in this state . . . they always say yes,” Ehrlich said. “You ask them and they say yes.”
First Lady Kendel Ehrlich is co-chairwoman of the drive, along with Schaefer, though she could not attend the kick-off.
To accommodate donations year-round, Maryland Food Bank is acquiring a $7 million distribution facility in Halethorpe with eight times more storage capacity than its West Baltimore building. A $1.5 million matching funds grant is before the General Assembly.
Meanwhile, Ewing said it will take a lot of work to make room for this week’s donations.
“The double-edged sword is that while it creates a lot of tension, it’s what we’re here for,” Ewing said.
Adam enlisted the United States Postal Service, Boy Scouts of America’s Baltimore council, Safeway grocery stores, and new product donors Pepsi and Joe Corbi’s to meet his ambitious goal.
Hundreds of locations, including post offices, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage offices, and Safeway stores will accept donations this week.
Eight thousand Boy Scouts will be out Saturday collecting donations, and postal workers will collect door-to-door and at mailboxes on their regular routes.