“…it’s the foot soldiers, the grassroots movement, that gets the job done.”
– John Shaia, Direct of Programs, Maryland Food Bank
Calvert County pastors of various religious denominations announced this week that they will again unite for End Hunger in Calvert County during a press conference at the Calvert Library Prince Frederick on Monday.
Although the state and county declared the month of October to be “End Hunger In Calvert County Month,” last year was the first year the county pastors from Independent, Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist and Quaker denominations, as well as Church of God, Church of Christ, charismatic and non-denominational churches, participated. They teamed up with other charity organizations, schools, businesses and government officials to raise a total of 86,000 pounds of food in October alone, the Rev. Robert P. Hahn of Chesapeake Church said.
Hahn, the chairman of End Hunger in Calvert County, said the partnership’s goal for October 2010 is 100,000 pounds of food.
“And it’ll be gone within two months because the need is a lot greater than it was last year,” he said.
Citing statistics he researched, Hahn said that while Calvert is one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, it also has a high foreclosure rate. In addition, approximately 10,000 residents utilized food pantries this year, and the majority of the county’s hungry are not homeless, substance abusers or mentally ill, but are, rather, the working poor.
There are people now who are saying, “If I can be relieved of the price of food, maybe I can keep my house,'” Hahn said. “Our long-term goal is not just to feed people. It’s to help them become self-sufficient.”
In addition to the regular countywide food drive, the first inaugural 5k Run to End Hunger will take place on Oct. 16 at Trinity Methodist Church in Prince Frederick. The cost of the event is $20 for participants who register before Oct. 9 and $25 to register after that date.
The state has also selected Calvert County, for the first time, to be Southern Maryland’s Faith-Based Hunger site. An event is scheduled for Nov. 8, with more information to come, and Hahn hopes the county can serve as an example to other religious leaders throughout Southern Maryland.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so we’ve got to be humbled,” Hahn said. “For clergy, this is our calling. This is not an option for us.”
The Rev. Paul Liersemann of First Lutheran Church also stressed the importance of clergy men and women overcoming their different denominations to work together and reach out to people and families who are struggling to make ends meet.
“Many of these people have jobs, they’re trying to make their way and I think it’s so important that we build relationships with people, that we listen to their story,” Liersemann said. “We can do something as individuals, but corporately we can do an incredible amount of good.”
Maryland Food Bank’s director of programs, John Shaia, said he supports the pastors’ “vital” endeavors “because it shows that the government gets it. They know it’s the foot soldiers, the grassroots movement, that gets the job done.”
John Pappas from the Randle Cliff Community one of 10 county food pantries participating in End Hunger month said the main reason for choosing October was its place in the calendar year.
“In the winter months, the need for food increases drastically,” Pappas said, and autumn is a good time to start preparing.
“I’m on the warehouse side of things so the food is closer to my heart,” said Chesapeake Church’s Cathy Ring, another food pantry representative. “It’s a big deal what we’re doing here today rallying the county toward a common goal.”
Collaborating churches include: All Saints Episcopal, Bethel Way of the Cross, Calvert Lighthouse, Chesapeake Church, Church of God, Crossroad Christian Church, Dominion International, Emmanuel Church, First Lutheran, Greater Mount Zion, Jesus the Divine Word, Mt. Olive United Methodist, Olivet United Methodist, Patuxent Friends Meeting, Patuxent United Methodist, Plum Point United Methodist, Randle Cliff Community Church, St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, St. John Vianney, St. Nicholas Lutheran Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, St. Paul United Methodist, Strength From Within Ministry, The Potters Place Christian Fellowship, Trinity United Methodist and Waters Memorial United Methodist.
Participating food pantries include: Bayside Baptist Church, Brooks United Methodist Church, Calvert Churches Community, Catholic Charities, Chesapeake Cares, Crossroad Christian Church, Emmanuel 7th Day Adventist, First Lutheran Church, Ladies of Charity and Randle Cliff Community.
For more information on the project and how to get involved, go to <a href=”https://old.endhungercalvert.org” target=”_blank”>www.endhungercalvert.org</a>.
Accepted food items: pasta, tomato sauce, rice/noodle side dishes, macaroni and cheese, boxed meals, cereal/oatmeal, potato/stuffing mix, stew/chili, tuna, salmon, chicken, vegetables, beans, fruit/jelly, soup, Ramen Noodles, peanut butter and cake/sweet bread mix.
Accepted hygiene items: toilet paper, paper towels, bar soap, deodorant, toothpaste/toothbrushes and dental floss. No glass items will be accepted.