Holiday meal boxes given out in Dundalk
Wednesday, 11 December 2013 12:34

About 160 meal boxes given out at local church

by Ben Boehl

    The long line of people standing in the rain to get into First Baptist Church of Dundalk on Nov. 26 was evidence enough.
     The United Way of Central Maryland has held its annual Harvest of Plenty program for the past 21 years, but Ashley Gorby of the United Way said there was a greater-than-usual need for the program this season.
    “In light of recent cuts to food stamps, calls to United Way’s 2-1-1 information and referral help line requesting assistance with food have increased,” Gorby said.
    “This year, United Way of Central Maryland has increased its Harvest of Plenty program by 20 percent.”
    According to Gorby, the United Way received more than 1,100 calls in the first two days after the phone line was open for registration for this year’s program.
    That included requests for 160 holiday meal boxes that were distributed at First Baptist Church of Dundalk in St. Helena.
    The boxes include traditional Thanksgiving meal items such as a 14-pound turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, collard greens, sweet potatoes, applesauce, corn, cranberry sauce and more. The box is built to feed a family of six.

The holiday meals are made possible by donations to United Way of Central Maryland’s Harvest of Plenty program and a partnership with The Lardarius Webb Foundation. It was reported that each box costs $15.
    Stephanie Halcott of 2-1-1 said that the boxes are distributed to pre-registered families, and there is a screening process.
    “They have to have proof of ID, proof of their Social Security number and proof that they are getting government assistance,” Halcott said.
    According to Halcott, 3,600 holiday meal boxes were distributed in Central Maryland, with nearly 600 given out in Baltimore County.
    “We try to connect people to the right assistance. We know there is a severe amount of needy people all over central Maryland,” Halcott added.
    Baltimore County distribution sites included Randallstown, Parkville, Lochearn,  Essex and First Baptist Church of Dundalk.
    “We have been doing this at the church for four years,” said church member  Carol Cullison.
    She added that a church member was involved with the United Way and that is how her church became home as a distribution location for the holiday boxes.
    Cullison stated that the church has held such events in the past and was happy to partner with the United Way.
    “We used to have a food pantry at the church, and the United Way came to us looking [for a distribution center],” Cullison said.