Feeding Carroll County’s hungry since 1982

Photo by Jakob Katzen.

For many, it is surprising that there is a need for food banks and pantries in Carroll County, given the programs and initiatives the state of Maryland has implemented in an attempt to combat hunger.

Thankfully, local individuals recognize the need to give back to the community and provide food to those who struggle to buy groceries on their tight weekly budgets.

Carroll County Food Sunday has been committed to feeding those who are hungry and strives to give individuals a new beginning. The non-profit organization provides a nutritionally balanced grocery package on a three- to four-day basis for Carroll County residents who would otherwise not be able to meet their emergency and supplemental food needs. These packages include meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, breads and milk.

“When I retired, my neighbor gave me 6 months to do my honey-do list,” said Carroll County Food Sunday food bank administrator Dennis Fahey. “[Then] he showed me what his role as a Food Bank Administrator was all about and it was essentially his way of asking me to cover for him while he was away on vacation.”

“It’s been a wonderful experience,” Fahey said.

Because Carroll County Food Sunday serves families and individuals who need food, the promise the organization has made to ensure that the entire Carroll County community is fed is a big undertaking.

“These people depend on us, believe me,” said Ed Leister, Carroll County Food Sunday’s executive director. “It’s really hard. It shouldn’t be in Carroll County, [but] it really is.”

Carroll County Food Sunday depends heavily upon volunteers and community members, as well as the two part-time staff members who make sure the operations are handled efficiently and professionally.

Volunteers and community members work together to feed those in need and they note the importance, for them, of giving hope to people who face the reality of being hungry every day.

“Years ago I started volunteering out of a church group, but had to stop for a period because I had cancer,” said volunteer Charles Colgan. “Eventually I decided to come back to give my time and energy because there’s no better gift than helping those in need. I’ve been doing this for three years now.”

In recent years, the number of volunteers has grown, increasing the number of families for which Carroll County Food Sunday can provide food. The number of volunteers helping to serve those in need varies from week to week, but roughly 10 to 20 volunteers daily will help anywhere from 40 to 70 people coming in to receive food. One-third of the provided food comes from donations, a third from purchased and a third from the state government.

More than 400 families a week are served at Carroll County Food Sunday’s Westminster, Eldersburg and Taneytown locations.

Every year, the number of families who receive food packages from Carroll County Food Sunday continues to expand with food drives and food donations being held throughout the community in elementary schools, from local philanthropic events and monetary gifts that are used explicitly for purchasing food.

One of the volunteers’ biggest takeaways is that everyone who walks through the doors to receive a week’s supply of food has a different story. The volunteers hope, too, that these people will soon make it back on their feet. They want the families they serve to know there is hope for the future and that they are not alone in their work to turn their lives around.

“What you really find out in a place like this is the fact no one comes from the same background,” Fahey said. “This is a testament to what we’ve been able to accomplish over the years.”

Carroll County Food Sunday is always looking for volunteers, so to receive more information on ways to get involved and make donations visit https://ccfoodsunday.org.