Feed the Hungry Food Drives fill shopping carts, fuel volunteerism
Four local Giant Food Stores and Manna Food Center team up for Montgomery County Service Days
Twelve Giant Food Stores, including four in Gaithersburg, teamed up with Manna Food Center to organize Feed the Hungry Food Drives as a part of the Montgomery County Community Service Days, held this year from October 22nd through October 24th.
Volunteers collected food on Friday at the Kentlands Giant and on Saturday at the Goshen Crossing, Muddy Branch and Diamond Square grocery stores. Shoppers were encouraged to purchase nonperishable items like soup, pasta, and canned vegetables, or give money to volunteers who would buy items in the store. All donations were sent to Manna Food Center, a Montgomery County food bank that distributes food to individuals and families in need of food assistance.
Donations collected this weekend are vital to maintaining Manna's food supply.
"We have many different kinds of smaller scale food drives going on," said Natalie Corbin, the development manager for Manna Food Center. "But this one, being that it's at 12 stores over one weekend, should have a pretty large impact on Manna's food supply for this time period."
Since fiscal year 2008, the number of households served by Manna has surged from 24,814 to 35,908—a 45 percent increase.
"As numbers continue to increase and we're continuing to supply food to folks in need, our supply needs to be replenished, especially since we have more folks coming through the door," Corbin said.
Members of the Interact Club, a community service group from Gaithersburg High School, volunteered at the Goshen Crossing event.
Erin Mulloy, a member of the club, believes that the food drive will benefit both the recipients and the shoppers.
"I think it definitely helps the people who need food and helps the people who are donating food feel connected to their community," she said.
Students from the Green Acres School, a private school in Rockville, volunteered at the Muddy Branch event.
Morgan Mayer, a seventh-grade student from Garrett Park, feels that the donations will help improve the food security of impoverished families.
"They won't have to worry about when their next meal is [going to] come and where it's [going to] come from," she said.
Marissa Baxter, a teen from Rockville, volunteered at the Muddy Branch Giant, but has hesitated to volunteer in the past.
"I've tried a lot of times [to volunteer] and just bailed out, so it definitely helps seeing people out there volunteering," she said. "It just shows you that there are people in your community that are willing to sacrifice their time to help out. It's inspiring."
The Feed the Hungry Food Drives were organized as part of the Montgomery County Service Days, a weekend of events that encouraged residents to explore new volunteer opportunities.
"It's just a great day for people who want to volunteer with a new organization," says Lucy Yost, an Americorps Member at the Montgomery County Volunteer Center. "There's a whole lot of need in our county and everyone has something they can give," she adds.
Kien Ho, a teenager from Gaithersburg who volunteered with Interact Club, agreed.
"You live in this community, so you should help to make it better," he said. "And you should continue to do that all year, whenever you can, not just one weekend."
At least eight shopping carts of food were collected by the Goshen Crossing and Muddy Branch volunteers before the end of the event on Saturday.
Manna Food Center will announce the total weight of the food collected later this week. Check back on Tuesday for the totals.