The promise of spring is around us. We've all reset our clocks, and many of us have started making our plans for school breaks and important religious holidays. Manna is gearing up for many hunger-fighting activities in a spirit of renewal: Our bus, "Manny," is out from hibernation, sporting new sponsorship logos and a calendar full of Pop-up Pantry activities and learning opportunities. Another new school-based pantry is offering free shopping opportunities. We are putting the final touches on the program and silent auction for Heroes Against Hunger on March 28. I hope to see you there as we salute individuals and institutions who have helped make our 35 years of fighting hunger possible.

CEO Jackie DeCarlo and Board Chair Mitchell Glassman (right) with State Senator Cheryl Kagan and Delegate Julie Palakovich Carr (center) and other local organizations advocating for state funding.

That's all the usual type of spring activity, but more is happening behind the scenes. Late last year I signed a lease on new program and office space in Silver Spring. Our warehouse will be staying in Gaithersburg as the distribution hub reaching more than 31,000 people throughout the County at almost two dozen distribution sites. But in order to be closer to neighborhoods like Aspen Hill, Fairland, White Oak, and Wheaton, we need a Center for sharing food and building skills. This summer we'll be opening a new space, and I can't wait to give supporters like you a tour! Full disclosure: we'll also be renovating the warehouse this summer, but I haven't ironed out all those details -- rest assured we will continue services no matter what. Please let me know if you have any questions about our expansion plans.

On the home front, I'm going to be constructing my first ever raised-bed garden. I like to dabble in the yard and was recently motivated by a wellness lesson during a Manna staff meeting. Heart disease runs in my family so fresh veggies can help me avoid common diet-related pitfalls. At home and at work, this is clearly a season of building and growing and caring. I wish the same for you, and hope to see you out in the community soon to enjoy the season together. 


We Love Our Volunteers!

Manna is very fortunate to have an amazing group of dedicated regular volunteers. These individuals give their time and support to Manna each week. We would not be able to do our work without their commitment. Referral Office volunteers help answer our participants' questions and schedule them to pick up food. Our Distribution, Sorting, and Satellite volunteers help to pack and distribute fresh produce, shelf stable items, and frozen meats at our warehouse and satellite locations. 

To celebrate our dedicated volunteers, Manna hosts a week-long luncheon. The main course is prepared by former staff member and cooking enthusiast, Chef Paul! Lunches include such delicacies as homemade brisket, lasagna, beef bourguignon pie and more! Many staff members also contributed yummy treats and salads to the feast. We love to host this event each year as a small token of our appreciation to our volunteers.

Manna has approximately 150 weekly volunteers but this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Thousands of volunteers donate their time to Manna whether it be every month or just once or twice a year. Volunteers touch every aspect of our work at Manna, and we truly appreciate all they do to support Manna's mission of ending hunger in Montgomery County!

If you or a group you belong to would like to volunteer, visit to sign-up.

Smart Sacks School Pantries
More Food & More Choice
A mother and her son pose after shopping
at the school pantry.

With more than 35% of public school students receiving Free and Reduced Meals (FaRMs) during the school week, Manna strives to bridge the gap during the weekend through the Smart Sacks weekend bag program. The Smart Sacks Program currently provides a bag of shelf-stable food items to 2,860 students across 57 elementary schools to take home every Friday during the school year. While Smart Sacks provides supplemental food for students over the weekend, there is still a great need for additional food assistance for many families in Montgomery County. This school year, Manna began a new school pantry program at Harmony Hills and Highland elementary schools. 

School pantries are made possible through a partnership between Manna (delivering the food items to the school the week of the pantry) and the school and volunteers (taking charge in setting up the pantry). School pantries allow families to receive more food, a wider variety of food items, and to exercise choice in selecting the foods they receive. Parents are also able to conveniently visit the school pantry on regularly scheduled days as the pantry events are held when parents are already at school. The pantry model allows families to pick up both shelf-stable food and produce as well as more food overall, as parents are able to pick up food items and take them back home right away. 

Manna is currently serving 85 families at Harmony Hills Elementary and 50 families at Highland Elementary. As of March, Manna has distributed 16,542 lbs of food over 12 pantry events. Families receive fresh produce such as apples, oranges, cabbages, and sweet potatoes, and shelf-stable food such as oatmeal, pasta, flour, cereal, cooking oil, and condiments. Manna seeks to expand implementation of school pantries to more schools in Montgomery County to reduce food insecurity in the County while preserving the dignity and respect for our families.

Celebrate Heroes in Our Community!
March 28, 2019

Join us on Thursday, March 28 for Manna Food Center's annual Heroes Against Hunger Awards Reception. This event is an opportunity to recognize community champions in the fight against hunger who have demonstrated a true passion for fighting hunger and feeding hope in Montgomery County.  The evening will featuring delicious food, a dynamic silent auction and a short, meaningful program. 

Heroes Against Hunger Reception
March 28, 2019
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm 
Canopy by Hilton at Pike & Rose

2019 Honorees
Corporate Hero
Adventist HealthCare
Individual Hero
Jeff Miller
Community Hero
The Community Foundation in Montgomery County
Silent Auction

Our 2019 silent auction includes fantastic packages including:
  • 2 tickets to Hamilton
  • a wine tasting session for 20 people at your home, 
  • round-trip airline tickets on Southwest
  • 3-month gym membership, and 
  • Nationals baseball tickets!
Our Sponsors
Thank you to our 2019 sponsors.
If you would like to become a sponsor or join our Leadership Circle
contact Mardia Dennis at 240.268.2546 or
Spotlight Recipe
Miso Soup

Miso is rich in essential minerals and a good source of various B vitamins, vitamins E, K and folic acid. As a fermented food, miso provides the gut with beneficial bacteria that help us to stay healthy, vibrant and happy; good gut health is known to be linked to our overall mental and physical wellness. 

Download English or Spanish recipe.

Ingredients :
4 cups water
1 tablespoons nori (or wakame seaweed, shredded)
1/3 cup miso
3 green onions (a.k.a. scallions, chopped)
1/2 block firm tofu (cut into 1-inch cubes)
Optional: dash soy sauce

Cook Time:  15 minutes 

  1. Gather your ingredients
  2. Bring water to a slow simmer and add seaweed. Allow the seaweed to simmer for at least 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to very low and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir until miso is well dissolved. It's best not to boil the miso, as this will ruin some of its healthy properties as well as change the flavor of the soup.
  4. That's it! Making miso soup is so easy because the fantastic flavor from the miso does all the work for you.
  5. Enjoy your vegetarian and vegan miso soup.
Manny is on the Move!
Bring Manna's Pop-Up Pantry and Mobile Kitchen
to Your Community

Manny was able to test out winter Pop-Up Pantries this past February. Thankfully, the weather cooperated! For our winter Pop-Ups we made sure that there was an indoor space available at our test sites. We served a over 100 people with our two winter Pop-Up Pantries, and introduced a new community to Manna, our mission, and our services in a partnership Pop-Up Pantry with CHEER (Long Branch Healthy Food Access Program)

We especially would like to partner with organizations and community members around our East County location. Pop-Up Pantries are a great way to introduce your community to Manna and spread the word about our new Manna Market opening in East County.

Welcome New Board Members!
The Manna Food Center Board of Directors is pleased to announce Dr. Forrest A. Daniels and Matthew Keene have joined the board. Daniels and Keene bring a wealth of nonprofit expertise and strengthen Manna's mission to feed more people in need through community partnerships.

Forrest Daniels comes to Manna with expertise in healthcare administration, leading community-based health initiatives, and serving vulnerable communities. Dr. Daniels is a Montgomery County resident and recent graduate of Leadership Montgomery (CORE-2018). 

Matthew Keene is Vice President of Client Management at Cigna. Matthew lives and works in Montgomery County. For over two decades, Mr. Keene has worked in public health with a strong emphasis on healthcare management and policy. Matt has been a longtime supporter of initiatives to address food insecurity in his community. 
Forrest Daniels
Matthew Keene
Available Volunteer Opportunities 

Food Distribution
Volunteers help, Mon-Fri from 9am-3pm, pack and sort food, bag produce and meat, assist clients to their car, and take in food donations.
Must be 16 years of age of older.  This opportunity is approved for SSL hours.  Click for more information.

Client Services Representative
Help log referrals by phone, fax, and email in to our database.  Volunteers must be able to commit to a minimum of 6 months.  English/Spanish bi-lingual skills are a plus! 
Shifts Currently Available: Day, Evening, or Floater (shift varies based on need)
Second Saturday of the Month, 10am-2pm (monthly commitment)
Email  Katie ( for more information.

Satellite Distribution Centers
Volunteers needed to help distribute prepacked boxes, assist clients to their car, and take in food donations. 

Wednesdays 3pm-7pm
Clifton Park Baptist Church (formerly Long Branch Satellite)

Fridays 1pm-4pm
East County Regional Service Center 
Must be 16 years of age of older.  This opportunity is approved for SSL hours.  Click for more information.

Food Runner
Join Community Food Rescue (CFR), Montgomery County's network for food recovery. Help deliver rescued food to area shelters.
Learn how you can help feed more and waste less at

For more information about these and any other volunteer opportunities visit our website .

A Heartfelt Thank You to Our  Donors
We extend a warm and sincere THANK YOU to all of the organizations and businesses that have donated food and funds.  Without your incredible generosity, we would not be able to feed families in our community. 

A full list of organizations and business donors will be provided in the April eNewsletter.
If you're interested in donating food, making a financial contribution, or volunteering, 
please contact us at :  
Manna Food Center
9311 Gaither Road
Gaithersburg, MD 20877 

Remember to support Manna through your workplace giving campaign.
United Way # 8846 - CFC # 23028 

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