Talk about the road to you-know-where being paved with good intentions.
A few weeks ago, the Landover-based supermarket power Giant Food Inc. sent a truckload of good intentions -- in the form of 35,000 pounds of donated food destined for the victims of a June flash flood that killed 26 people in Shadyside, Ohio.
But the food, the result of a relief effort organized by residents of the Maryland town of Shady Side, arrived spoiled, covered with mold, littered with broken glass and infested with maggots, Ohio relief officials said.
Only one-third of the food was salvageable and the rest had to be taken to the dump at a $227 cost to disaster relief groups in Ohio.
Giant officials will send a $10,000 check to the Ohio town and pay the costs of removing the bad food. They admitted their mistake and said the damaged food came from storehouses normally destined for food banks in Washington and Baltimore. Since transporting the food locally takes no more than an hour, Giant officials speculated that the load was not properly prepared for a three-day trip to Ohio. "It was a human error in deciding to send that food," said Mark Roeder, a Giant spokesman.
People in the twin-city towns were initially upset over the situation, according to news services. "I have never seen such a mess. I believe whoever organized this meant very well, but whoever gave this food to them was trying to pull something for public relations," said the Rev. R.C. Simon of the First Christian Church of Shadyside.
"We have enough problems without being a landfill for somebody," said Greg Boyd, Disaster Relief Center coordinator in Shadyside.
"Oh my God, we took a truckload of trash to them? This is horrible! ... The people in Shadyside must be really upset with me," said Wayne Ridenour, organizer of the Americans Helping Americans: Shady Side, Md., to Shadyside, Ohio, Flood Relief. He said he did not know the food had arrived spoiled.
One batch of the food dated from the 1970s -- a volunteer started to serve powdered lemonade from the load until he found a coupon inside the package that had an expiration of Dec. 31, 1977.