Crab Cake Row: The reality of food insecurity in Hamilton and UMCS Food Pantry

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Cathy Thompson discusses food insecurity in Hamilton and the folks she and the UMCS Food Pantry on Harford Road serve every day in our city from Pappas in Cockeysville on “A Cup Of Soup Or Bowl Weekend” for the Maryland Food Bank.


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Nestor J. Aparicio, Cathy Thompson

Nestor J. Aparicio  00:00

Welcome back, we are wrapping things up. I said we’d stay till five o’clock we’re staying to at least 501 Because Kathy Thompson is here to talk about food pantries and food insecurity. And the real reason we’re here. You’re the last guest. And I tell you, you know, I’ve had a lot of people here this week, doing a lot of things, but I don’t know that I actually had to really clear myself here. That was tough story from Andrews laughing gas. I knew it would be people with food insecurity, get tough stories every day. You know, I had Carmen from the Maryland food bank by and he talked about organizations like yours. And the importance especially and I learned this, that I’m maybe I’m prescient, but this is the time of the year where there’s it’s Thanksgiving most critical, it’s cold. It’s those people can’t get around. People don’t donate. They’re not thinking about the holidays and whatnot. Talk about your place. Well come on you I Googled you. You’re an east side of town. Right.


Cathy Thompson  00:54

We are. We’re in northeast Baltimore City and the Hamilton neighborhood. Sure. I

Nestor J. Aparicio  00:58

was a Coco’s on Wednesday. And right down the street from you. And I, you know, I’m going to come and do something personally for you, because it’s sort of my neck of the woods and up and down where I am. But neighborhoods and food insecurity in northeast Baltimore in places like Hamilton, what does your pantry do? Well,

Cathy Thompson  01:17

right now we’re serving about 40 to 50 families a week, there has been, as you mentioned, a big increase in need. One, it’s seasonal. As you point out, lots of folks are thinking about donating during Thanksgiving to Christmas time of year, this time of year, donations do drop off. In addition, last year, when the food prices spiked, we’ve seen a significant increase this year, we served approximately 1800 people last year, this in 2020 to 2023, we served almost 2300 distributions. So we’ve seen a big increase in the need. There’s a quite a big diversity of different kinds of folks that come in to I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about who might be food insecure. And, you know, that’s

Nestor J. Aparicio  02:04

it for me, because it was something that people lived in shame forever, right? They don’t, it’s not something people talk about,

Cathy Thompson  02:08

right. And that’s one of the reasons that I started doing this, because I had some folks that I was close to some that were senior citizens, some that had mental health problems. And they were ashamed to need to be in need like that. And we want to one of them of our mission is to provide people with a way to access services and get assistance and be treated with respect and dignity. So that’s, that’s a big part of what we do. And we are finding increasingly that more and more folks are finding their way to us. Marin Food Bank is phenomenal. They’re there, if without their assistance, we couldn’t serve as many people as we do. 211 also is a good bridge to different resources for folks and they send folks our way as well. Oh, you’re

Nestor J. Aparicio  02:54

you MCSD get give us run us through all the acronyms here because that’s United

Cathy Thompson  02:59

Methodist Community Services. You’re right. And we’re located at faith community United Methodist Church, we actually have a sister congregation, eastern United Methodist, so both churches work together to provide this food assistance program. But we also try and serve as a bridge to other thing community needs as well. We have scouting there. There are a number of 12 step meetings. And the folks who come in, you’re more


Nestor J. Aparicio  03:22

of a community center. Really, yes, we

Cathy Thompson  03:24

try and be more than just a food pantry, not just a food pantry. Well,

Nestor J. Aparicio  03:27

what will people find when they come to your place? Are they coming to him I’ve driven up down to Hamilton all my life.

Cathy Thompson  03:32


See the foods since we’re all working but we don’t have any paid staff that this is all volunteer driven. So our food pantry is only open on Saturdays from 10 to 12. But

Nestor J. Aparicio  03:41

once a week, people can come and is it a marketplace? Ours

Cathy Thompson  03:45

is most of the items are pre bagged, but we do get some donations of bread and pastries and other things like that from wise food market they can help

Nestor J. Aparicio  03:53

themselves to where’s my wife scooper that those are my friends. My best my partner. They inspired all this now, you know, I back in November, my wife and I went out to it may have been October I looked book it up Jamie Costello though. We went out shopping wise, if you will, we live in a town scenario. And they had tents outside. They were doing this thing for the Maryland food bank. And I’ve done things for the food bank and I found Oh Campbell’s Soup laying around a radio station years after we did events for them because it was kind of gangly to have people bring stuff to my station. You know, like let’s bring it to where people are take it to the local pantry. I don’t know if the times have changed or whatever. But folks brought it out that day and wise markets and royal farms are huge supporters. And you’re the fifth person in a row I’ve heard from food pantry, everybody’s mentioned wise and I love that and you didn’t even know they were my sponsor, but they inspired a lot of this and you know, my dad stood in a soup line in 1929 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. And he told me about it and I don’t know. I mean, my dad’s been dead 34 Three years, I haven’t thought about it a whole lot, not even we were collecting things for the food bank years ago, and I haven’t talked about it a whole lot or set it on the air. But my dad would always say you got $1 in your pocket, puts up in your belly, touch my belly. He said, put it on your belly. And I know it’s kind of all come rushing back this week, when I hear about food insecurity, and soup kitchen and bread lines, he called it a bread line. More than a C club, he said bread lines, my dad would back in the day now pantry, and dignity involved with this. And then I grew up in Dundalk in the 70s and 80s. I saw kids with food stamps, and you know, not food stamps, special lunches or free lunches. And that sort of, and you sort of knew those kids didn’t have much, but I don’t think they went home to nothing. It never occurred to me all they get free lunch good, you know, good for them. But maybe that you my parents, that’s not good. But I never thought I never knew anybody starving in my neighborhood or anywhere I was in any way. And it goes on and in. In dark, it always went on the darkness, it had to have been happening, right. And there weren’t beautiful people like you doing this work that, you know, like

Cathy Thompson  06:08

three out of five people are one paycheck away from being food insecure. And most people, whether it’s a medical emergency or your car, something happens to your car, you’re they’re out of luck. They’re right now they’re behind on their bills. And most of the folks on the lower income side of the spectrum, food and shelter, take up most of your income. So anything that you can do to help somebody with food gives them a little bit more income to help with some of the other needs, whether it’s medications, we have seniors that come in, that are skimping on medications, because they’re trying to see if we can give them their food they can get, they can use that money, you know, maybe for their medications. So we have a lot of senior citizens, we have people that are in recovery programs, we have a lot of people taking care of other family members, you have folks who are working to low paying jobs, it’s the faces of people that are in food insecure or a lot broader than what a lot of people think. You see

Nestor J. Aparicio  07:01

food is true. I’ve mentioned that a lot. You’ve just saw my whole week of you’ve been a beautiful guests and you waited patiently. And nobody said it like that. And I said earlier in a week maybe even to my wife, our cat screams in the middle of night food right? And there are times when our cat and I love her to death. She’s beautiful, beautiful creature, my life will go on out and I’ll say to my wife, she just wants to know what’s there. So I’ll dump some food for her. And she’ll be like, do you what do you need it? She’ll be like, cool, thanks, I might need it later you know? And even my cat wants to know where their next meal is coming from even though she knows we love and we’re gonna feed her I always say her you know we feed you you we’re gonna feed you and but I’ve never gone to bed hungry. I have never gone to bed not knowing where my next meal was coming from. I’ve always wondered what my next meal is going to be and I’m 55 years old. I have never thankfully I mean because it health and good fortune and people will love me. I have never ever ever thought like my cat thinks which is where’s the next half a sandwich it’s going to help me be alive and that is that’s something everybody in the car everybody listened to put yourself in that for one moment if you’re listening and you never had that my father had that and 5030 years after his death I’m you’re trying to do something about it. And I don’t know that I ever thought about it like that but I meet people like you that see the face of this every day and told me the stories. It makes me want to go home to my pantry right now. And first yell at my wife we got all the stuff in here like you know what I mean? Like and I always say to my wife I am I told to the autism post I may be a little on the spectrum like if I got tested if I don’t see it it’s not there. You know what I mean? Like I say to her the pantry is too damn deep because we put something in and then I don’t see it therefore I don’t eat it. These are the problems that like these are first world problems in a big way where you are it’s those are the items that you want right i mean that the food bank wants that could be somebody’s lunch on Saturday afternoon literally this week. What

Cathy Thompson  09:11

we try and distribute is you know a few items that are like breakfast few that are lunch few that are dinner related we try and work in some fresh items produce whenever we can we have a small garden out back so in the summertime will you know when folks can come and pick their own things too. But we just try and give them a pretty good mixture so that you know they’re not entirely all canned goods, although that is the backbone of what we give out because it’s non perishable. Sure,

Nestor J. Aparicio  09:37


sure. Well any advice for people they want to come visit you and do something nice directly for you. Tell them how to find do that on Hamilton Avenue

Cathy Thompson  09:46

5315 Harford road

Nestor J. Aparicio  09:48

that’s that’s not you have to look for that it’s really hard for it’s on hard for bird which side hard for Rififi side.

Cathy Thompson  09:57

Everybody will say it’s on the dunk and done Not side. That’s

Nestor J. Aparicio  10:01

the east side. That’s false on the east on the east side. I’m not like these kids that don’t. I grew up with that I needed to know he’s from West. You said a kid now go east or like wound. Look for the sunset. Go east. I don’t know. Kathy Thompson is here, you MC s and the M stands for Methodist. I’ve been moved all week long by church groups and had St. John’s parish on on Monday. And boy churches do more than just a place for worship, right. I mean, in a lot of communities i That’s honestly, it’s news to me. I guess I sort of knew it, but I never thought about it. What a basis of strength. It can be for community, that it’s not just a place to go Sunday and worship. It’s a place that the community comes together to help other people, which is, I mean, that’s God’s word, right. Like, period. That’s, that’s what it’s about

Cathy Thompson  10:51

doing the word, doing the word. I

Nestor J. Aparicio  10:56

want to hang out with you, Kathy. I mean, I’m you. You’ve got wisdom that you’re not sharing with me here that maybe we can get later. Thank you for coming. And I told you I keep your five or 10 I’ve kept the 23 minutes. So you know, I think no, I didn’t keep it 2012. So yeah, so I kept you in Andrews laughing guests. Well, I didn’t want to, like, come up against the clock at five o’clock. We’ll make sure people come down Harford road and visit you because they’re going to handle it. There’s a bunch of new restaurants in Hamilton. So there’s reasons to come by right. Yeah. All right. Well go get a meal in Hamilton. Go see my girl Danna Coco’s on the way. You stop riding away to Coco’s if you’re going for this coconut shrimp. And you can drop some good stuff off. 5315 Correct. All right. All right. I am going to make you my like, official little pantry that I dropped stuff off to. Is that good works for me. You said the last guest of the week and you’ve said about three more profound and a lot of people said profound things, but you’ve taught me a lot. So thank you, you’ve been a gift

Cathy Thompson  11:51


to me. We really appreciate the opportunity to be here today.

Nestor J. Aparicio  11:55

I appreciate you coming all the way at the Pappas here. I’m gonna get your bowl of soup before you go. All right. It’s over 40 hours and seven minutes. I did 40 hours and seven minutes here today. On my thanks to Kathy Thompson. You can find her 5315 Harford Road, take some good food down there. Those folks are friends and answers laughing guests and all these people have been amazing. I’m gonna sign off and step out but I’m not done with this charity initiative. A cup of Super Bowl and crabcake row. I is now in the books. We’re back to our regularly scheduled programming. I’ll be back on Monday with Luke and we yell about football.

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