Weekend Bags

Bags of food available for all Montgomery County children, MCPS students, and their families. No referral or ID required.

Fridays – 11am – 1pm

See details below.

Weekend Bags announcement - English

Weekend Bags announcement - Spanish

Press Release logos

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 16, 2020

Contact: Catherine Nardi, Programs Manager, Montgomery County Food Council

301-664-4010, cnardi@mocofoodcouncil.org

Montgomery County is Now Accepting Applications for its Farm to Food Bank Capacity Building Grant program.

$200,000 in grants will be awarded to assist Montgomery County-based food producing farms with the purchase of equipment, and/or to build food production capacity and infrastructure in order to contribute to the Montgomery County Farm to Food Bank program in 2021. Montgomery County farms can apply for up to $20,000.

Applications for the grants are due by noon on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, and funds will be distributed beginning Tuesday, October 13th 2020. Grant awards are funded by Federal CARES Act funding that was appropriated by the County Executive and Montgomery County Council to address local food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, Manna Food Center, and Food for Montgomery, a fund of the Greater Washington Community Foundation. 

A panel of local food security and agriculture experts will review the applications and determine grant awards. Grant applications will be reviewed on criteria that includes requests in the priority area such as food production equipment and infrastructure, and the ability of the farm to increase the quantities of culturally appropriate food being provided to local food assistance organizations, to enhance gender/racial/ethnic diversity within the agricultural producer community, and to engage in sustainable farming practices. Manna Food Center is the administrator for the program and will make the funding awards.

To submit an application and learn more, visit the Food Council’s website at www.mocofoodcouncil.org/f2fbapp/.  If any farm cannot complete the application online or requires the application be provided in a language other than English, please email Catherine Nardi at cnardi@mocofoodcouncil.org.  An information session will be held via Zoom on Monday, September 21st from 9-10am for interested applicants.

The  Montgomery County Food Security Task Force was established by the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security in early April 2020 as a response to the increased demand on food assistance providers during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the mission to increase the volume of food in the food assistance system, improve access to food by building the capacity of the food assistance network and food production sector, and to communicate information to residents on available resources and ensure residents are connected with available resources.

One of more than a dozen strategies implemented through the Task Force was the Montgomery County Farm to Food Bank program, which seeks to:

The Montgomery County Farm to Food Bank Program is a partnership between the Montgomery County Food Security Task Force, the Montgomery County Food Council, the Montgomery County Office of Agriculture, Manna Food Center, and the Greater Washington Community Foundation.

For the latest COVID-19 updates, visit the County’s COVID-19 website and follow Montgomery County on Facebook @MontgomeryCountyInfo and Twitter @MontgomeryCoMD.

Farm to Food Bank Applications


Contact: Sam Miller, Communications Manager, Manna Food Center

301-509-8440, samantha@mannafood.org

New Farm to Food Bank Investment Set to Strengthen Montgomery County Food Economy, Fill Nutrition Gap for Residents Experiencing Hunger  

Today, the Montgomery County Farm to Food Bank program — a partnership between the Montgomery County Food Security Task Force, the Department of Health and Human Services, Manna Food Center, the Montgomery County Food Council, and the Montgomery County Office of Agriculture — announced an initial investment of over $200,000 in local farms to support a sustained and resilient local food supply and provide more nutritious and culturally diverse produce to residents who experience hunger.

Since March, food insecurity in Montgomery County has increased by 50%, with over 100,000 residents receiving food assistance. In June, 86% of food assistance providers shared that they did not have sufficient supplies of fresh produce to distribute to clients. “This program brings a critical systems approach to the Food Security Response Strategy, supporting small businesses while promoting food security, and enhancing connectivity and self-sufficiency in our County’s food system,” stated Heather Bruskin, Executive Director of the Montgomery County Food Council.

With County funding provided through the Montgomery County Food Security Task Force, Manna Food Center will serve as the program administrator to purchase roughly 100,000 pounds of produce during the first phase of the program, which runs through November 2020. Manna will distribute corn, tomatoes, squash, potatoes, berries, and other produce to a network of County food assistance providers and directly to its own clients, reaching at least 20,000 people who experience hunger. “Everyone deserves access to fresh fruits and vegetables, yet that’s not the reality for many of our neighbors,” said Jackie DeCarlo, Chief Executive Officer of Manna Food Center. “Investing in our local farmers to help fill the fresh produce gap is an important step toward a more just, secure, and sustainable local food system, and we’re proud to play our role in this partnership.”

The first phase of this new program investment will include partnerships with 8+ local farms. Farms participating in Phase I of the program include: Butler’s Orchard, Dodo Farms, Lewis Orchards, Metro Microgreens, Sandy Spring Gardens, and The Farm at Our House. Phase II of the program, which will begin in the fall, will establish a grant program for farmers to receive capacity-building funding in exchange for a commitment to provide product to the program in 2021.

“The market rate for high-quality farm products is typically too prohibitive for food assistance providers to accommodate in their purchasing budgets,” said Mark Hodge, Assistant Chief Operating Officer at the Montgomery County DHHS and DHHS lead for the Food Security Task Force. “However, the pandemic has left many local farms with excess produce, which instead of going to waste can be redirected to feed local residents.”

Beyond serving the needs of county residents who experience hunger, this Farm to Food Bank investment will preserve the economic sustainability of local food producers, increase the nutritional value of food consumed close to its harvest date, and reduce the negative environmental impact of long-haul food transport, while fostering long-term increased local food production and procurement, which are key pillars of building Montgomery County’s food system resilience. “This program is a fantastic opportunity for farmers in Montgomery County, especially those financially impacted by the pandemic, to provide local food to our community while meeting their bottom line,” said Jeremy Criss, Director of the Office of Agriculture.

The Montgomery County Food Council, Manna Food Center, and the Office of Agriculture express their appreciation to the Montgomery County government and Food Security Task Force for allocating the initial funding to support this program from July 2020-November 2021. They also thanked the local table crop farming community for their ongoing dedication to providing nutritious, locally produced food to all Montgomery County residents.

Manna’s monthly Breaking Bread series continues on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 from 12-1:30pm via Zoom

Join us for this continued exploration of the root causes of food insecurity and new ways to reduce this experience in our community.

COVID and Food Security:  The Impact on the Black and African American Community of Montgomery County

With guest speaker:

Nkossi Dambita, MD, MPH, MS

Director of Clinical Services

African American Health Program

Facilitated by Cynthia Wilson, Community Food Education Program Manager, Manna Food Center

Click this link to sign up and access the Zoom link:


Remember, this is a virtual potluck so bring your lunch!

Manna Food Center and MCPS have been collaborating since mid-March on bulk distributions of weekend bags to support families when MCPS meal sites are not operating (usually Saturday & Sunday).  We have been selecting sites based on convenience to multiple meal site locations as well as in an attempt to address specific needs of communities that don’t have an MCPS meal site nearby. These distributions will continue throughout the fall semester.

This week we will be providing weekend bags on Friday, 09/25 from 11am-1pm.  MCPS school buses and DOT staff will be at the following sites, facilitating:

Argyle Middle School – 2400 Bel Pre Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20906

Montgomery Blair High School – 51 University Blvd E, Silver Spring, MD 20901

Damascus High School – 25921 Ridge Rd, Damascus, MD 20872

Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School – 13737 Wisteria Dr, Germantown, MD 20874
New Hampshire Estates Elementary School – 8720 Carroll Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20903

Gaithersburg ES  – 35 N Summit Ave, Gaithersburg, MD 20877

Quince Orchard HS  – 15800 Quince Orchard Rd, Gaithersburg, MD 20878

Galway Elementary – 12612 Galway Dr, Silver Spring, MD 20904

Sargent Shriver ES  – 12518 Greenly St, Silver Spring, MD 20906

The bags are designed to provide a few family-sized pantry staples (canned vegetables, beans, tuna, rice, pasta) for two days as well as provide some foods that kids can prepare themselves (instant oatmeal, fruit cups, milk box.  The number of bags provided to each household is determined by household size and bag inventory at each site.

9:30-11:30 am (Dennis Ave Health Center, Silver Spring). The Food Recovery and Access working group supports the increased recovery of, equitable access to and advocacy for more healthful food for Montgomery County residents. We do this by working with the Food Council leadership to build capacity of food assistance organizations, amplify the work of Community Food Rescue, and integrate local and regional efforts into the work of community, non-profit, business and government stakeholders.

More low-income students have accessed #schoolbreakfast thanks to schools adopting breakfast after the bell service models that move breakfast out of the cafeteria and make it a part of the school day. Learn more with the Food Research & Action Center’s resourcebit.ly/2vkgAPD

The National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, co-sponsored by the Food Research & Action Center and Feeding America, and in cooperation with the National CACFP Forum, draws anti-hunger and anti-poverty advocates; federal, state and local government officials; child advocates; representatives of food banks and food rescue organizations; sponsoring organizations and nutrition and anti-obesity groups.

Members of Congress, Hill staff, and key Administration officials attend the conference, provide comments as part of plenary sessions and panels, and join participants at receptions and special events.

The three-day event is packed with numerous networking opportunities, interactive training, content-rich sessions, and a day on Capitol Hill to meet with Members of Congress and their key staffers. Participants share information and learn how to strengthen the quality and reach of federal nutrition programs, learn best outreach and program practices from other states and localities, fill in the gaps in food service for millions of low-income children, and identify creative ideas for new and innovative approaches to ending hunger.

The National CACFP Leadership track brings together the CACFP community to discover best practices, shape change, meet with USDA officials, and learn strategies for successfully implementing the new healthier CACFP meal pattern, identify opportunities for cutting red tape, and building a thriving CACFP program.

MLK Weekend Food Drive Brings In 27,000 Pounds of Food

Elected officials serve alongside Manna volunteers for the second year in a row.


(Silver Spring, Maryland) – Manna Food Center (Manna) collected a total of 27,088 pounds of food during the MLK Service Weekend Food Drive held on January 18th and 19th 2020 at nineteen participating Giant Food stores in Montgomery County.

“In what is becoming a special annual tradition, elected officials and volunteers came together to honor the spirit of Dr. King throughout this weekend of service,” said Jackie DeCarlo, chief executive officer for Manna Food Center. Even though temperatures were below freezing for part of the weekend, the food drive was still a huge success. Public Allies AmeriCorps member Isaac Manchego came out to volunteer at the White Oak Giant on Sunday afternoon. “There were so many moving parts that had to align in order for this event to run smoothly,” said Manchego. “It was really inspiring to watch all the different members of the community come together to help those most in need.”

The 13.5 tons of food will help stock Manna’s shelves for Montgomery County neighbors in need. As many as 63,000 residents live with uncertainty around food for themselves and their family. Food will be distributed to participants through more than a dozen distribution sites.

More than 200 Manna volunteers and 24 elected officials collected food items from shoppers throughout the weekend of service. Certificates of Recognition will be distributed to the top five Giant Food stores. This year’s challenge winner was Kentlands, where volunteers collected 2852 lbs. of food donations, followed by Cabin John (2716 lbs.), Westfield Wheaton (2514 lbs.), Leisureworld (2244 lbs.), and Olney (1924 lbs.).

Participating elected officials included:

Try this 10 Minute Burrito Bowl

4 teaspoons coconut oil

2 cups chopped baby spinach

2 cups cooked brown rice

2 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 avocado, chopped

1 cup chopped tomatoes

Chopped peppers (optional)

Chopped avocado (optional)

Shredded lettuce (optional)

Sour Cream (optional)

Salsa (optional)

Onions (optional)

Meat (optional)

Cheese (optional)


  1. Heat a large pan medium-high heat. Add coconut oil to the pan, and melt. Add spinach and sauté until wilted.
  2. Add rice, beans, sea salt, garlic powder, and cumin. Cook until all ingredients are heated through. Remove from heat.
  3. Top w/ optional toppings and serve!


Tips- Shopping on a Budget


5 Healthier Foods Under $2

  1. Brown Rice
  2. Frozen Vegetables
  3. Canned Tuna
  4. Canned/Jarred Marinara Sauce
  5. Canned Refried Beans


Gaithersburg Giants Win Challenge for Second Year in a Row

Gaithersburg Giants players collecting food.

On Saturday, July 13, scores of college baseball players who have come from across the country to play summer baseball in Montgomery County collected 7,675 pounds of food at twelve Giant Food stores across Montgomery County for the Manna Food Center. The Gaithersburg Giants repeated as champions capturing the Tenth Annual Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League’s Feed the Hungry Challenge by collecting 2,926 pounds of food. Players from the Bethesda Big Train and Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts also collected food on Saturday. Bethesda and Silver Spring both set individual team records for the most food collected in the decade of the annual challenge. In the ten years of the competition, the college players have collected 60,846 pounds of food — more than 30 tons of food — for Montgomery County’s neighbors in need. Thanks to the Manna Food Center, Giant Food, and Text Design for supporting this community service program of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League.

Jackie DeCarlo, Manna Food Center CEO, said “Once again the Cal Ripken League teams came together for the local community in an impressive effort. The Manna team thanks all who made the collection of nearly four tons of food possible. The decade long effort by the Ripken League has provided 30 tons of food for the people we serve. It is especially valuable to get this food now to restock our shelves for the summer.” Ripken League Co-Founder Bruce Adams, who initiated the Feed the Hungry Challenge in 2010, said: “Seeing these college ballplayers who have come here from all across the country pitch in to serve our Montgomery County neighbors in need reminds us of the good there is in the world when we all work together.”

Lisa and Matt accepting trophy for Gaithersburg Giants collecting the most food.

Here’s the nine-year history (TOTAL: 60,846 pounds = more than 30 tons):

2019 – July 13 (note: each team collected at four Giant Food stores)

Gaithersburg 2,926 pounds

Bethesda 2,716

Silver Spring-Takoma 2,033

TOTAL 7,675 pounds = 3.8 tons


2018 – June 30 (note: each team collected at three Giant Food stores)

Gaithersburg 3,205 pounds

Rockville 2,661 pounds

Bethesda 2,425

Silver Spring-Takoma 1,208

TOTAL 9,499 pounds = 4.8 tons


2017 – June 10 (note: each team collected at two Giant Food stores and one Whole Foods)

Rockville 3,670 pounds

Gaithersburg 2,315

Bethesda 1,726 (plus Friendship Heights Whole Foods at 435 for 2,161)

Silver Spring-Takoma 670

TOTAL 8,816 pounds = 4.4 tons


2016 – July 9 (note: each team collected at three rather than two Giant stores)

Rockville 3,262 pounds

Bethesda 2,415

Gaithersburg 1,204

Silver Spring-Takoma 1,202

TOTAL 8,083 pounds = 4 tons


2015 – July 18

Rockville 2,145 pounds

Bethesda 1,336

Gaithersburg 868

Silver Spring-Takoma 802

TOTAL 5,151 pounds


2014 – July 12

Bethesda 1,198

Silver Spring-Takoma 1,084

Rockville 999

Gaithersburg 659

TOTAL 3,940 pounds



2013 – July 13

Rockville 1,858
Bethesda 964
Gaithersburg 890
Silver Spring-Takoma 850
TOTAL 4,562 pounds


2012 – July 7

Silver Spring-Takoma 1,863

Rockville 1,621

Bethesda 1,356

TOTAL 4,840 pounds


2011 – June 18

Rockville 1,660

Bethesda 1,562

Silver Spring-Takoma 1,432

TOTAL 4,654 pounds


2010 – June 12 (note: each team collected at two Giant stores)

Rockville 1,658

Bethesda 1,166

Silver Spring-Takoma 802

TOTAL 3,626 pounds

What comes to mind when you think of your human rights?  Maybe the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Have you ever considered food as a basic human right?

If you have, it’s likely you’ve thought about it in the context of global food security.  Indeed many of the organizations that promote food as a right, such as FIAN International or the Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition have a global scope.  At our June Breaking Bread meeting, we began by learning more about the content of some of these worldwide efforts by watching a video entitled, “The Right to Food – A People’s Struggle”.

Important concepts communicated in this short film include access to land, social mobilization, and democratic representation as well as the need to continue to raise awareness.

This is an important point for us here in the States and especially here in Montgomery County where even when there are organizations like ours that have been promoting food security for over 35 years, some County residents don’t know that the right to food is still not a reality for 60,000 of our neighbors.

After viewing the film, our group discussed the questions:

We agreed that individuals and governments need to work together to secure the right to food for all community members.  The government can support this right for their citizens through the provision of benefits, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and through legislating wages that allow people to afford adequate amounts of safe and nutritious food for themselves and their families.  Individuals have the responsibility to support each other and organizations that are promoting food security, as well as a responsibility to hold our governments accountable.

We recognized that realizing the human right to food requires considering food in the context of many other social issues of our time including gender and women’s rights, protecting land and natural resources, economic inequality, to name a few.

Framing food security as a fundamental human right can help to address not only the immediate effects of hunger but the upstream causes of hunger.  Hunger is, after all, a manifestation of social exclusion and discrimination.  It is these root causes that we convene monthly for Breaking Bread to talk about. This was the last Breaking Bread session being held at our 9311 Gaither Road location. We will take a short hiatus as we transition to our new space. Please stay tuned and I hope you will come break bread with us in the fall.

To learn more about the Right to Food I recommend this resource and others from WhyHunger.

Community Food Rescue volunteers glean kale at Butler Montessori School View more photos

Community Food Rescue (CFR) has launched the second year of its gleaning initiative.

Gleaning is the harvesting of food that would otherwise go unpicked. The crop is left unharvested when there is so little left behind that it is not economical for the farmer to harvest. Or, in the case of “pick your own farms,” the pickings are too slim for customers.

Our first glean of the season was at Butler Montessori School in Darnestown. With school coming to a close, there was limited staff or student time for pulling the kale so that summer crops could be planted.

Two Montgomery County Master Gardener volunteers, Dawn L. and Erica S. (one of whom is also a CFR food runner) and Jill P. also wearing two hats as a Manna/CFR volunteer, heeded the call from Susan Wexler, CFR’s Outreach Coordinator, to help with harvesting kale. CFR was invited to harvest the kale by Bridgette D. who runs the farm program at Butler Montessori and who is also a CFR donor farmer. Bridgette operates Chicken in the Woods Farm.

We pulled the kale and then a very helpful group of 7th graders, stripped the kale leaves off the stem and the stems went to feed the chickens and into the compost pile. Meanwhile, Susan explained a bit about CFR’s mission and food insecurity in Montgomery County. Twenty–five pounds of fresh, organic, kale was delivered by Erica S. to the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless’ Safe Haven home for Veterans. We were invited to return to Butler Montessori for another glean in July.

Our second glean was at Butler’s Orchard — no relation to Butler Montessori! Four Master Gardeners: Linda B., Robin K., Christine H., Gail S., and two CFR/Manna volunteers Molly H. and Ellen B. joined Susan Wexler for this work. Over just a few hours they harvested 82 pounds of beautiful strawberries. Molly completed her first food run and delivered the berries to Washington Grove Elementary School in Gaithersburg. The school staff was thrilled. CFR provided them with berries last year and the students loved them – it was a special treat. CFR collaborates with Pam H. of the University of Maryland Extensions Supplemental Food and Nutrition program to arrange for these relationships with MCPS.

We are grateful for this collaborative effort between CFR, Master Gardeners, UMD Extension and of course particularly to our farmer donors.

We expect to organize for 4 or 5 more gleans this growing season.

Stephanie HubbardManna Food Center and Stephanie Hubbard, Director of Development and Communications, are honored to be sponsored by Bank of America to attend New Strategies, a four day advanced training program conducted by Georgetown University’s Global Social Enterprise Initiative (GSEI) at the McDonough School of Business in May. Stephanie Hubbard will join a class of 60 nonprofit executives from around the country to participate in New Strategies’ forum specifically designed to help nonprofits increase and diversify their revenue streams.

Executives will learn from leaders in the nonprofit and philanthropy fields, Georgetown business school faculty and each other on topics ranging from cause marketing, earned revenue, using predictive analytics to increase individual giving levels, deferred and major gift funding options, addressing decreasing government funding and more. Ongoing access to the expert speakers and networking among the nonprofit executives is a hallmark of New Strategies.

Just being named by Bank of America is itself an honor. There is no application for nonprofits to attend New Strategies. Only those nonprofits sponsored by a corporation or foundation are invited to participate in the program and then only after being vetted by New Strategies.

Our Distribution Locations are Changing!
Nuestros Lugares de Distribución están Cambiando!

If you would like to talk with our team to consider other distribution dates, times and locations, please call (301) 424-1130.  

Si deseahablar con nosotros para considerarotrasfechas de distribución, horarios y ubicaciones, llame al (301) 424-1130. 

Starting Tuesday, April 23, 2019 Manna will be opening a new distribution site at Gaithersburg Middle School. This site will replace our daily distribution at Manna’s Gaithersburg warehouse. 

Gaithersburg Middle School
2 Teachers Way, Room 200
Gaithersburg, MD 20877

A partir del martes 23 de abril de 2019, Manna abrirá un nuevo sitio de distribución, que pronto reemplazará el lugar de nuestra distribución en la bodega principal ubicada en 9311 Gaither Rd. Gaithersburg.

Nuevo Centro
Gaithersburg Middle School
2 Teachers Way
Gaithersburg, MD 20877 – Sala 200

Food distribution at the Gaithersburg warehouse will continue daily until May 24, 2019. From April 23 to May 24, you will have the option to schedule a pick-up at either Manna’s Warehouse or Gaithersburg Middle School. 

After May 24, food will no longer be distributed from Manna’s Warehouse on Gaither Rd. 

La distribución de alimentos en la bodega principal de Gaithersburg continuará todos los días hasta el 24 de mayo de 2019. Desde el 23 de abril hasta el 24 de mayo, tendrá la opción de programar su recojo en la bodega de Manna o en la nueva ubicación que es Gaithersburg Middle School.

Después del 24 de mayo, los alimentos no serán distribuidos en la bodega de Manna en 9311 Gaither Rd. Gaithersburg.

Bacteria typically have an unpleasant reputation. Commonly thought of as “germs,” bacteria make up 2-5 lbs. of our body weight, weigh as much as our brain, and thrive inside our gut. These bacteria existing in our intestines are termed microbes for the fundamental role they play in human physiology and development of disease for the short-term and long-term. The food we choose to eat influences the types of microbes that live in our gut, which consequently dictates our health and well-being. Such diseases include Type 2 Diabetes, metabolic syndrome, immunity, brain health, chronic kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease (CVD). As disease influences physiological and biochemical changes, it also stimulates change within the human gut microbiome. Native to the gut, these microbes control 90% of our bodies, leaving us more bacteria than human (1). Our gut microbiome, the community of bacteria that lives in our gut, continues to develop and diversify as we age and reflects what we eat. An imbalance of healthy and unhealthy microbes in your gut is called gut dysbiosis. This imbalance may contribute to weight gain in addition to the development of other diseases ranging from Type 2 Diabetes to CVD.


Your body’s ability to break down carbohydrates, such as bread, granola bars, and pasta is heavily influenced by the type of bacteria you have in your gut. A poor ability to break down the bread on the sandwich you had for lunch may result in high blood sugars and the potential onset of Type 2 Diabetes over a period of time. You can combat this issue by including a variety of foods in your diet and minimizing your intake of highly processed, high sugar foods. A diet rich in lean protein, whole grains, fruit, and vegetables are the foundation for a healthy gut and a healthy life!

Certain diet strategies can be effective, but sticking to these four general, simple steps can help you to create healthy and balanced meals that promote great gut health.


Incorporate a variety of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables into your daily intake. Your gut will thank you, and so will your overall health!

Eat fermented foods and yogurts.

Enjoy fermented foods such as tempeh, kimchi, kefir, and yogurt – all excellent sources of probiotics and a step in the right direction to optimal gut health.

Limit highly processed, high sugar foods.

Try limiting highly processed, high sugar foods by opting to drink liquids like water, low-fat milk, or sugar-free beverages. You can also cut down the number of times you eat out in a week. If you find yourself getting take out 3 or 4 times, limit yourself to 1 to 2 times a week and substitute for a home-cooked meal.

Focus on eating mostly whole, plant-based foods.

Focusing on eating mostly whole, plant-based foods can be simple. Start by filling half of your plate with vegetables each meal – fresh or frozen!

Rachel is a dietetic intern at the University of Maryland College Park. After undergoing two ACL reconstructions, Rachel developed an interest in the human body and rehabilitation. During a summer studying sport, health, and exercise science at Brunel University London, Rachel realized the paramount role nutrition plays in health and well-being. She aims to inspire others to take care of their mind, body, and soul through nutrition and movement.






Happy National Nutrition Month! This special month is celebrated, as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic states, to “increase the public’s awareness of the importance of good nutrition”. This includes spreading the message of how much one’s diet may impact their health and well being.

In honor of this month, it is important to address the misconception that healthy eating is bland and boring. There are simple cooking tips and tricks that can transform what one may believe to be a tasteless food, into a new favorite! This can be achieved simply by a combination of spices, sauces, marinades or even cooking methods.

Herbs and spices have the opportunity to create different flavors representing different cuisines, ranging from a Mexican to Italian flare. Some fresh herbs may be more expensive than others, try dried versions, which are just as flavorful. Just be sure to adjust the amount used in your cooking, as dry herbs tend to be more potent. If you’re a fan of spicy food then spice up your dishes with your favorite hot sauce, crushed red pepper, or, for an Asian twist, try sriracha. All of these tend to have a long shelf life so they should keep well without worry of spoiling.


Often, marinating is thought to be a time consuming process, time that most people don’t have when it comes to getting a meal on the table at the end of the day. In reality, marinating a protein for even just 30 minutes is sufficient enough to add great flavor and avoid any food safety concerns. A good guide to making your own marinade starts with oil, preferably with heart healthy fats such as olive oil; an acid, such as vinegar (your choice) or lemon juice; and lastly, seasonings or herbs. Some marinades also include a sweet component. Opt for more natural forms of sweetener, such as honey or maple syrup, which contain health benefits including antioxidants and minerals not found in table sugar. Typically the ratio for fat to acid in a marinade is 3:1. For example, mix together three tablespoons of oil with the juice of one lime and add 2 teaspoons of chili powder and freshly chopped cilantro if desired! This would go great on chicken or fish.

With the right seasonings, healthy food no longer needs to be boring! Turn a bland chicken breast into a yummy Mexican inspired meal with some chili powder, cumin, and garlic salt. Serve over brown rice and your favorite veggies. Squeeze lemon juice over a piece of fish with garlic salt and your favorite herbs. Don’t be afraid to be creative in the kitchen and find your favorite combinations!

Samantha is a dietetic intern in the UMD College Park program. She is passionate about finding ways to combat food insecurity while working to reduce food waste through systematic changes. Samantha loves traveling and getting the chance to try local cuisines while on her adventures!

Notes from the CEO – Jackie DeCarlo

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.

Cholesterol: Clearing Up the Confusion

written by: Laura Jeske

Are eggs bad for you? When it comes to nutrition and heart health, this is a question that seems to be asked constantly. Eggs are naturally high in dietary cholesterol, a fatty substance that has long been thought to increase levels of cholesterol in your blood. High blood cholesterol is a major factor in determining risk of heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, contributing to approximately 25% of deaths annually. Heart disease is actually an umbrella term that encompasses a range of diseases, including atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries), heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm), stroke, and heart valve problems.

Cholesterol was first associated with heart disease in the early 1900s, but the lipid hypothesis – the idea that there is a direct link between cholesterol levels and heart disease risk – didn’t catch on immediately. It wasn’t until the 1950s that research indicated a correlation did exist between the two, and physicians began recommending people cut back on high cholesterol foods, like eggs. Since then, the associations between heart disease, cholesterol, and diet have been studied extensively. New research is moving away from the idea that cholesterol in food has much impact on blood cholesterol, but current guidelines continue to recommend maintaining low blood cholesterol levels in order to reduce the risk of heart disease.

There are two main types of cholesterol: LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, circulates in your blood and can clog your arteries; HDL, the “good” cholesterol, removes harmful cholesterol from your bloodstream. While it makes logical sense that eating cholesterol in food will increase cholesterol in your blood, it’s not quite that simple. Several dietary factors influence blood cholesterol levels. There isn’t a lot of good evidence that dietary cholesterol has a significant impact on blood cholesterol for most people. In fact, the most recent federal dietary guidelines removed previous limits on dietary cholesterol, stating it is no longer a nutrient of concern. Instead, the focus is on three other factors:


Fat: Limiting fat is often the first thing that comes to mind when people think of a heart-healthy diet. However, not all fat is detrimental. Fat comes in three primary forms: saturated, unsaturated, and trans fat. When it comes to cholesterol and heart health, evidence shows that trans fat and saturated fat increase harmful LDL cholesterol and that trans fats in particular also decrease beneficial HDL cholesterol. Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, are considered heart-healthy and increase HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL cholesterol.


Sugar: The connection between sugar and cholesterol is a relatively recent discovery. Added sugars in the diet have been shown to decrease HDL cholesterol, and may increase LDL cholesterol. Sugar also increases levels of blood triglycerides, fats that, along with LDL cholesterol, are a risk factor for heart disease.


Fiber: Dietary fiber, particularly soluble fiber, effectively lowers LDL and total cholesterol levels by binding cholesterol and inhibiting its absorption into the bloodstream.

What to Eat for Healthy Cholesterol Levels?

Keeping in mind that diet is not the only factor affecting cholesterol levels certain foods do have an impact so diet is an important consideration.


Add these high-fiber foods into your diet:

Replace foods high in trans and saturated fats with heart-healthy unsaturated fats

Limit foods high in added sugar

So, what about eggs?

Though eggs do contain a small amount of saturated fat, they actually contain more unsaturated fat, plus a host of other beneficial nutrients. Feel free to include eggs in your heart-healthy diet.

Editor’s Note: Laura is a dietetic intern from Virginia Tech (go Hokies!). She spent the past two weeks working with the programs team at Manna Food Center learning about food insecurity and community nutrition education. She loves lentils and particularly enjoyed teaching Manna staff all about healthy protein and fat.

Following the guidance of Montgomery County, Manna Food Center will be closed today. Food services will resume tomorrow and all Wednesday orders honored.

MLK Weekend Food Drive Brings in 28,000 Pounds of Food

Over 200 volunteers and 20 elected officials collected food at 20 Giant Food stores.

(Gaithersburg, Maryland) – Manna Food Center (Manna) collected a total of 28,542 pounds of food during the MLK Service Weekend Food Drive held on January 19th and 20th at participating Giant Food stores in Montgomery County. Food donations increased by 87% from the previous year.

“We witnessed the strength and compassion of our community during MLK Service Weekend,” said Jackie DeCarlo, chief executive officer for Manna Food Center. “Many were motivated to help because of the government shutdown, including our long-term partner Giant Food. The shutdown opened the public’s eyes to ongoing issues around food insecurity here in Montgomery County.”

The 14 tons of food will help stock Manna’s shelves for Montgomery County neighbors in need. More than 63,000 residents live with uncertainty around food for themselves and their family. Manna waived income requirements to assist residents impacted from the shutdown. The waiver remains in effect until further notice. Food will be distributed to participants through existing distribution sites.

Over 200 Manna volunteers and 20 elected officials collected food items from shoppers throughout the weekend of service. The top five Giant Food stores were Westfield Wheaton (3114 lbs.), Blair Park (2193 lbs.), Kentlands (2052 lbs.), Burtonsville (1998 lbs.), and Traville Village Center (1758 lbs.).

Participating elected officials included:

  • U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen
  • U.S. Representative Jamie Raskin
  • State Senators Cheryl Kagan and Jeff Waldstreicher
Maryland House of Delegates
  • Gabe Acevero
  • Lorig Charkoudian
  • Charlotte Crutchfield
  • Kathleen Dumais
  • Lesley Lopez
  • David Moon
  • Lily Qi
  • Jared Solomon
  • Jheanelle Wilkins
Montgomery County Council
  • Gabe Albornoz
  • Evan Glass
  • Will Jawando
  • Hans Riemer
Gaithersburg City Council
  • Mayor Jud Ashman
  • Laurie-Anne Sayles
  • Ryan Spiegel

Photos available at http://bit.ly/MannaMLKFoodDrivePhotos.

(Photo Credit: Manna Food Center)

Saturday, January 19

Wheaton Giant
2900 University Blvd West
9:30 am – 10 amU.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen with Manna CEO Jackie DeCarlo

12 pm – 3 pm
Councilmember Gabe Albornoz

Germantown Commons Giant
13060 Middlebrook Rd
9 am – 12 pm
Del. Gabe Acevero

Kentlands Giant
229 Kentlands Boulevard
9 am -12 pm
Mayor Jud Ashman

Blair Giant
1280 East West Highway
12 pm – 3 pm
State Sen. Will Smith and Del. David Moon

Traville Giant
9719 Traville Gateway Dr
9 am – 12 pm
Del. Kathleen Dumais

12 pm – 3 pm
Del. Lily Qi

Sunday, January 20

Wheaton Giant
2900 University Blvd West
9 am – 12 pm
State Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher andDel. Jared Solomon

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin with Manna CEO Jackie DeCarlo

Leisure World
3860 International Dr
2 pm – 2:45 pm
U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin

Blair Giant
1280 East West Highway
12 pm – 3 pm
Del. Jheanelle Wilkins

Cabin John Giant
7919 Tuckerman Lane9 am -12 pm
Councilmember Hans Reimer

Muddy Branch Giant
842 Muddy Branch Rd
2 pm – 3 pm
Councilmember Laurie-Anne Sayles

Neelsville Giant
20944 Frederick Rd   
9 am – 12 pm
Del. Lesley Lopez

Olney Giant
17821 Georgia Ave   
9:30 am – 10:30 am
Councilmember Will Jawando

Rockville Town Center Giant
625 Hungerford Dr
11 am – 12 pm
State Sen. Cheryl Kagan

White Oak Giant
11221 New Hampshire Ave
9 am – 12 pm
Councilmember Evan Glass and Del. Lorig Charkoudian 

Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Rep. Jamie Raskin to Participate in Manna Food Center Food Drive in Montgomery County, January 19 & 20

18 Elected Officials from Local, State, and Federal Government will join Manna volunteers for MLK Service Weekend Food Drive across Montgomery County.
(Gaithersburg, Maryland) – Manna Food Center (Manna) is pleased to announce Senator Chris Van Hollen and Representative Jamie Raskin will participate in Manna’s MLK Service Weekend Food Drive. Along with Van Hollen and Raskin, elected officials from the city, county, and state government will take part in Manna’s food drive to honor the legacy and life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The MLK Service Weekend Food Drive is one of the major food drives Manna holds each year. This year’s food drive will take place across 18 Giant stores with volunteers collecting food from 9am to 3pm on Saturday, January 19th and Sunday, January 20th.

Manna CEO Jackie DeCarlo and Sen. Van Hollen will kick-off the food drive at 9:30-10:00 AM on Saturday, January 19 at the Westfield Wheaton Giant (2900 University Blvd West). On Sunday morning (starting at 9 AM), Rep. Raskin will be at the Westfield Wheaton Giant with Manna volunteers to greet shoppers and highlight the importance of food access for residents.
Sixteen elected officials have confirmed their participation and will be paired with volunteers to collect donations at stores across the county, they include:

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen
U.S. Representative Jamie Raskin
State Senators Cheryl Kagan and Jeff Waldstreicher

Maryland House of Delegates
• Gabe Acevero
• Lorig Charkoudian
• Kathleen Dumais
• Lesley Lopez
• David Moon
• Lily Qi
• Jared Solomon
• Jheanelle Wilkins

Montgomery County Council
• Gabe Albornoz
• Evan Glass
• Will Jawando
• Hans Riemer

City of Gaithersburg
• Mayor Jud Ashman
• Council Member Laurie-Anne Sayles

“We are excited to have Montgomery County leaders representing all levels of government participating in our food drive,” said Jackie DeCarlo, chief executive officer for Manna Food Center. “We welcome the opportunity to bring greater awareness to the needs of residents who face hunger in our community.” DeCarlo notes that Manna Food Center relies on generous food donations from local grocery stores, businesses, community groups, and residents to feed neighbors in need across Montgomery County. More than 63,000 residents are food insecure – living with uncertainty around food for themselves and their family. Manna served 31,200 residents in the last fiscal year through its food distribution and weekend school bag program.

An interactive map of food drive locations is available at http://bit.ly/MLKFoodDrive.

Jackie Here. Working with community groups has always been a passion of mine. Connecting with people one-on-one can be impactful, but also intimidating. There isn’t a stage or podium to hide behind when you are shaking someone’s hand and asking if they want a sample of your vegetable salad! Luckily during my second week with Manna Food Center, I was able to interact with a live audience at the Glenmont food pantry in Silver Spring, Maryland to further develop my interpersonal skills.

On the day of the presentation, I came prepared with all of the materials my internship partner, Isabella, and I had created. Colorful copies of “healthy hues for you,” recipe printouts, food models, and of course, the food samples were brought in. We were stationed off of the main hallway in a small room where the carts were held for the participants to shop with. Our table was proudly decorated with a bright red Manna tablecloth and displayed our education materials and hands-on activity. We were ready to go!

Since we weren’t visible to the people waiting in line to be checked in, Isabella and I brought the samples and handouts to them. I noticed that people are were initially intrigued by the black bean and tomato salad which is when I could talk to them about the varieties of vegetables we included. I would ask them what vegetables they like to cook with, do they not like preparing some varieties, and has Manna introduced them to any new produce. It was great hearing what people’s individual likes and dislikes were. Many people would light up when they listed off what they have received from Manna; some were vegetables I had never heard of before like watermelon radish.

Jackie, UMD Dietetic Intern.

Along with the nutrition table set up in the room, there was a cart with free children’s books for the taking. While some parents were checking in with the volunteer at the desk, we would ask kids if they wanted to peruse the books. I was usually greeted with a bashful smile, a nod and then the tiny tots would dash over to the racks. This is when the food models really came in handy. I asked one girl if she recognized the vegetables I had displayed or which ones she liked. I found out she LOVED broccoli and couldn’t get enough of baby carrots. Bell peppers weren’t her favorite but the squishy bell pepper rings were fun to play with!

The main take-away I had from the evening at Glenmont was that people generally like to talk with you. People can be at the food pantry for all different reasons but talking about vegetables doesn’t have to put them on guard. I gained a greater understanding for the variety of people Manna serves, from all different ethnic backgrounds and ages. Being an intern at Manna was a very special and unique rotation. I hope that Manna can continue offering nutrition education to the clients they serve!

Jackie, dietetic intern from the University of Maryland

Receiving a closed box full of food can be both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience for participants. Exciting because it feels like you’re receiving a present—knowing there are some quality products inside. And nerve-wracking if there are dietary restrictions and strong personal preferences you live by. What items go in a box matters and impacts how participants can get the most out of the food provided. That’s where Jenna, a registered dietitian and Manna’s program director, along with dietetic interns play a key role in preparing boxes.

Introducing special closed boxes!

I learned how a Manna participant will receive a box full of core food groups like, fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy (shelf stable), and some treats. From time to time, there are participants who communicate having special dietary needs. It takes knowing your way around the warehouse, some nutrition knowledge, and a lot of attention to detail to meet the needs for the special boxes and ensure anyone and everyone is receiving a box of nourishing items.

What I did

Before participants pick up their boxes, Manna’s Participant Services staff notifies Jenna regarding who needs a special closed box and specific dietary restrictions and preferences. After some brief instructions, Jenna sent Jackie (another dietary intern) and me into the warehouse to piece together multiple “D boxes” (diabetic) with a vegan preference. Once we select our box, secure the bottom, and properly label the top and sides, we’re ready to go. Jackie and I followed Jenna’s box packing guidelines and walked around the warehouse finding appropriate items. We review each item’s label and ingredients in order to ensure it is appropriate.

Isabelle (left) and Jackie, UMD Dietetic Interns

What I learned

Attention to detail is everything! When packing these special boxes, there are dietary restrictions and preferences to think about, plus being mindful of taste, textures, and acceptability. Through this task, I learned that practice makes perfect. When packing for the first time, I rushed through the task without slowing down and thinking about those mindful questions: will this item taste good with another item in here? Was I thorough in checking the ingredients? Is this particular item too complicated to use? I made mistakes and missed items. But I’m thankful to Jenna taking the time to check my work and teach me what I was doing well and what I was missing. By the third time packing boxes, I had a better handle of mindfulness and was able to pack a successful box with minimal supervision.  Practice makes perfect and mindfulness is one of those skills that requires us to think outside the box.

Manna CEO Jackie DeCarlo makes the case to the Montgomery County General Assembly Delegation to support food security programs and initiatives at the local and state level. (Video courtesy of County Cable Montgomery).

Please help the Boy Scouts of Troop 291 as we participate in the annual Scouting for Food Drive.

We ask that you fill this bag (please use more bags if necessary) with non-perishable food items (such as canned fruits or vegetables, pasta, and cereal—no glass please!) and leave it on your porch on Saturday, November 10th by 8:30 a.m. 

Troop 291 will pick it up and distribute it to the Manna Food Center.

As you can imagine in these tough economic times, we are under tremendous pressure to help feed thousands of families in Montgomery County.  Last year, Manna provided food to an average of 3,700 households each month.  Here are the ways Manna fights hunger in the community:

Your Contribution will make a difference in lives of your neighbors who are experiencing hunger in Montgomery County!

We ask that you please give generously, as the Scouting for Food Drive goes a long way towards meeting Manna Food Center’s commitment to the people in Montgomery County.

For questions, contact:  Alyssa Alban- 703-928-4397

Manna was proud to contribute to the Consumer Health Foundation’s recent briefing paper “Immigration Status as a Social Determinant of Health – Focus On: Food Insecurity”. CHF and their partners are presenting a series of briefing papers to explore immigration as it relates to health, hunger and poverty, and worker’s issues. This paper was a joint effort between the Food Research & Action Center, D.C. Hunger Solutions and Maryland Hunger Solutions.  Manna’s Director of Programs, Jenna Umbriac, and former outreach worker, Maria Chavez, provided input regarding Manna’s efforts to provide SNAP application assistance and the challenges faced by many immigrants and their families when it comes to food access.

“Despite the compelling research demonstrating the positive contributions immigrants make to the economic and social fabric of the United States, false narratives disparaging immigrants are prevalent and too often take root in restrictive policies aimed at immigrants. These false narratives…heighten the struggles immigrant households face in terms of addressing social determinants of health, including access to a consistent healthy, nutritious diet and willingness to participate in federal nutrition programs.”

This brief examines barriers and opportunities in the region to improving the food security and the health of immigrant households: http://www.consumerhealthfdn.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/SDOH_BriefingPaper_FoodInsecurity.pdf


Cooking Up Healthy Habits with Montgomery County’s Youth

Have you ever wanted to learn something new but not have the resources to start?  Whether it’s learning a new subject, picking up a new hobby, or developing a new skill, it’s essential to have a strong knowledge base, the right equipment, and access to resources in order to be successful.

For the children of Montgomery County, learning new skills in nutrition, such as cooking, food safety, and healthy eating habits, is possible with the help of “Manny”, Manna Food Center’s commercial kitchen on wheels. Every day, Manny travels from school to school providing nutrition education to students who qualify for free or discounted school lunches. Over a series of 8 weeks, students are able to learn the ins-and-outs of how to choose healthy, nutritious food options, how to cook these food options, and how to turn their actions into sustainable, healthy habits for a lifetime.

This past week, I had the opportunity to assist Manna’s Mobile Kitchen Program Coordinator in presenting the “Small Bites” lesson plan to the students of Germantown Elementary. Following the Common Threads nutrition education curriculum, students were able to get hands-on with prepping and cooking the recipe of the day – seasoned, roasted cauliflower. They had a blast peeling apart bite-sized pieces of cauliflower off of its stalk, tossing it with oil, pepper, and a pinch of salt, and watching it roast in the oven. When it came time to the taste test, the kids couldn’t get enough of it! Nearly every one of the students reported loving the recipe, stating that they enjoyed the spiciness of the ground pepper and that they were surprised by its delicious flavor. To my surprise, students were asking for seconds, thirds, and even a plate to go, leaving only scraps of the 4 heads of cauliflower behind. When asked if they would plan to cook this recipe again, a unanimous “YES!” rang throughout the bus. It’s safe to say, the lesson plan was a success.

Upon reflection, I couldn’t believe how big of an impact this experience had on these students. With only a few heads of cauliflower, three simple household ingredients, and a bowl, these kids were able to develop a healthy and nutritious meal option – with adult supervision of course– and have fun doing it! Based on the amount of enthusiasm portrayed during class, I have no doubt that these kids will be showing off their newly found skills to their friends and family, further helping spread the word of how delicious healthy and nutritious foods can be.

-Becky Handley
Dietetic Intern
University of Maryland


A Dietetic Intern’s Experience at Manna

While beginning my community rotation at Manna Food Center I had no idea what to expect for the 2-week duration we had planned with my dietetic internship. Unlike most other dietetic interns, I had never stepped foot in a warehouse before, let alone volunteered at a food bank.  After my first day in the warehouse, it was safe to say that I was nothing short of impressed and eager to return for the remaining days.

Manna is unlike most food banks for many reasons. While its singular mission to eliminate hunger and food insecurity can be parallel to other organizations, it goes above and beyond to also educate the county on nutrition and healthy eating. In the past year, Manna created a mobile kitchen to bring nutrition education to its community members. Also known as, “Manny,” Manna’s mobile kitchen and Pop-up-Pantry allows community members to conveniently benefit from Manna’s education programs and traveling pantry. One of my tasks during my two weeks here was to assist in teaching and prepping classes to elementary kids on Manny. While it was exciting and new to be on a mobile kitchen, it was even more inspiring to see how eager the children in the class were to try new vegetables and learn about healthy eating!

Aside from my wonderful experience with Manny, I also learned about other great programs Manna has created. For example, while more than 55,000 students in Montgomery County Public Schools are part of households that qualify for Free or Reduced Meals, Manna has created a solution to fight food insecurity geared towards these children. Manna Smart Sacks provides weekend meals to over 2,800 children to bridge the weekend gap when they can’t rely on school meals. Smart Sack bags include whole grains, low sodium canned vegetables, lean meats, and healthier snack options so the children can enjoy their weekends without the worry of receiving adequate nutrition.

I also was fortunate to participate in a meeting with Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) to see how Manna can partner with them since both programs have similar goals of nutrition education to the community. It was informative and incredible to witness two different organizations make time out of their busy schedules to meet and help one another due to the fact that they have the same goal: to support and educate the community.  I also was able to help volunteer in the warehouse by sorting produce boxes and helped distribute boxes to families when they arrived. Being both behind the scenes of packing the boxes and in front of the scenes distributing them was inspirational because I realized the impact I was making on these families and how grateful they were for this organization. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my dietetic internship!

Overall, I think Manna is an amazing organization that will continue to expand and impact the lives of families in Montgomery County. This food center has set very high expectations for all other food centers that I will visit in the future. I am thankful for the amazing staff and volunteers that I was honored to meet and work with during my time here.

-Melissa Talley
Dietetic Intern
University of Maryland

Manna Food Center Honors “Heroes Against Hunger” and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett

Organization Marks 35th Year of Fighting Hunger

BETHESDA, MD—Marking its 35th year of fighting hunger in Montgomery County, Manna Food Center announced today it has honored Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett with a legacy award for his commitment to supporting the organization’s mission and strengthening the social safety net for county residents.

(Left to right) Manna Food Center CEO, Jackie DeCarlo; Legacy Award winner, Hon. Isiah Leggett; and Manna Food Center Board Chair, Selena Singleton.

“As Manna has worked to make Montgomery County hunger-free we have had a strong champion in County Executive Isiah ‘Ike’ Leggett, who has never forgotten his roots in the hardscrabble poverty of a then-segregated Louisiana,” said Jackie DeCarlo, Manna’s chief executive officer, at an awards reception held in Silver Spring at The Fillmore. “Mr. Leggett has focused on making sure that every part of our community has a seat at the table and a voice in the decisions that affect their lives. His priorities and approaches are a role model to all of us who want a county where all live in dignity.”


Manna, the largest food assistance organization in Montgomery County, also named its 2018 Heroes Against Hunger award recipients, which include: Mead Family Foundation as Community Partner of the Year; Social & Scientific Systems, Inc. as Corporate Partner of the Year; and Ellen Teller of Food Research & Action Center, as Individual Hero of the Year.


“Ending hunger is not something we can do alone,” said DeCarlo. “We are grateful to all of our partners for their passion, dedication and commitment to fighting hunger. Our vision for the future is one where hunger no longer exists—and together we can achieve this goal.”


During the reception, Manna’s innovative programs and services were on display, including “Manny” – the nickname for Manna’s Mobile Kitchen and Pop-up Pantry. Manny is a transformed school bus that acts as a cooking and nutrition classroom for children and adults, and food pantry for communities with limited food access.


The event caterer, Corcoran Caterers, is a member of Manna’s Community Food Network. Community Food Rescue employs an innovative web tool and mobile app to match surplus food with hunger relief organizations, in real-time.

(Left to right) Jeff Miller of Jeff Miller Consulting Alliance (former Manna Food Center board member); Social & Scientific Systems, Inc. President & CEO, Kevin Beverly; Manna CEO, Jackie DeCarlo; Food Research and Action Center Director of Government Affairs, Ellen Teller; Manna Board Chair, Selena Singleton; and Mead Family Foundation board member, Stephen Mead.


The Mead Family Foundation was honored for its role as a lead funder and catalyst for improving food access, education and security in Montgomery County and for strengthening nonprofit partnerships and collaborations around such efforts. The foundation supported Manna and many food security nonprofits in its history. Recently, the Mead Family Foundation provided direct service support, running a two-year Mini-Grants Program to build agencies’ capacity to receive, store and serve additional food rescued through Manna’s Community Food Rescue network.


Social & Scientific Systems, Inc., which focuses on public health in this region and around the world, received its award for supporting Manna’s Smart Sacks program. The company’s staff team currently packs 70 bags a week for Greencastle Elementary, plus an additional 150 bags a week at Kemp Mill Elementary school in a weekend bag collaborative with Kids In Need Distributors (or KIND). Over the course of the year, Social & Scientific Systems staff will pack approximately 8,800 weekend bags to combat childhood hunger in our community.


Award recipient Ellen Teller is the director of governmental affairs at Food Research & Action Center. An expert in anti-hunger policy work, Teller has worked closely with organizations and advocates across the nation, including Maryland and Montgomery County, fighting to strengthen anti‐hunger programs. She has also served her local community as member of Manna’s Board of Directors and Advocacy Task Force.


Last month, Manna’s CEO DeCarlo was awarded Stop Hunger’s 2018 Women Stop Hunger Award at a ceremony in Paris, France. Under DeCarlo’s leadership, the agency has adopted a comprehensive approach to ending hunger through innovation, experimentation and community engagement. Stop Hunger is a global network of organizations working for a hunger-free world. The Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, headquartered in Gaithersburg, nominated DeCarlo for this award.

This past month I had the pleasure to present to the class of the Women’s Studies class WS101 at Montgomery College Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus. We discussed the prevalence of food insecurity in Montgomery County and focused on how disparities among women in Montgomery County in turn negatively impacts their health.


In addition to the presentation, the students also supported Manna in packing Smart Sacks bags for JoAnn Leleck at Broad Acres Elementary School. WS101 students also wrote Valentine’s Day cards and put in little treat bags for students as a surprise. Afterwards, students wrote reflections on the presentation and Smart Sacks packing project. One student, Henry Obioma Ukeje, provided us his very powerful words on poverty and the cycles of hunger. Please read his reflections on our Manna blog online.

Poverty and the Cycle of Hunger Locally, Nationally, and/or Globally

By: Henry Obioma Ukeje

Across the many societies in the globe, women experience issues that vary greatly in scope.  It does not require one to be female to take a Women’s Studies course; an in-depth understanding of what it takes to be a woman living in times of great economic strife and hardships is important. This course has opened my eyes to the severity of the many issues that accost women, especially poverty. The architects of this course engineered its relevance to address issues that face women from all backgrounds and their daily struggles to overcome these challenges, even in the midst of widespread gender inequalities.

Poverty and hunger are cyclical in nature. This can be best illustrated by the sad fact that a child born out of poverty is more likely to spend his/her entire life in poverty, and worse still, will probably raise his/her children in poverty. Politicians do so little to alleviate this, but instead uses poverty to propagate their selfish agendas. Education, which has become a basic need, is the only effective tool to end this vicious cycle of poverty and hunger, but it is still a luxury to many people. Though women and girls make up more than half of the world’s population, men are typically more educated than women, which shows how lack of access to education is tool to discriminate against and disempower women.

If women and girls were given equal opportunities as their male counterparts to access education, perhaps then, the cycle of poverty would end. Michele Sullivan, a women’s rights activist, states that, “If you help a girl, you help the family and the village and the society.”  This is because unlike men, women spend a huge fraction of their income buying food and other necessities; for them, the priority is often caring for their families and communities. More published research also shows that the higher a woman rises in her level of education, the more likely she will be to feed her child better, thus the education of women has a direct impact on malnutrition and child mortality rates. (Sue-Lynn Moses)

Local food banks are of great importance to our societies. We live in societies that are in constant ignorance of the people living around us. People imagine, “If I am okay, then everybody else is,” but in reality, the neighbor living in the next block might be going without food for days. Manna Food Center plays a very important role in ensuring that those underprivileged and neglected persons can also get food and not suffer in hunger.

Women and Gender studies instills the spirit of helping within our level of ability and fighting against gender-based discrimination and other inequalities that women face. We should be our own activists, so that we can help raise each other’s standards and perpetuate a society where no one drowns in the cycle of hunger due to their economic status. Helping others in the society creates a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, especially when you see the joy on faces of those who have received food donations that will help to sustain them.

The relationship between women and food, symbolically illustrated by the stuffing of pantry sacks (a “care”-type role typically performed by women), helps us understand how group-based marginalization has been propagated in the society, as well as the stigma associated with the experience of poverty. This act clearly demonstrates the themes our course has been studying: the historical production of sexual difference and the intersection of gender with other social forces. This course has inspired in me the role of being a social actor, so that that I can help to uphold the rights of women and girls. Together, we can end the cycle of hunger in society.


Ayu Saraswati, Barbara Shaw, and Heather Relihann. Introduction to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Joe McCarthy. Educating Girls is the Key to Ending Poverty. Aug 7, 2017. Retrieved from:

*Special thanks to the class of WS101 at Montgomery College Takoma Park/Silver Spring, Professor Esther Schwartz-Mckinzie, and Lucy Vitaliti, Coordinator of the Office of Volunteerism and Service Learning, in providing Manna this opportunity to share our knowledge and engage our community to end hunger.

-Karena Kuo, Program Manager, Smart Sacks

Jackie DeCarlo, chief executive officer of Manna Food Center, Montgomery County’s largest food assistance organization, was awarded Stop Hunger’s 2018 Women Stop Hunger Award at a ceremony in Paris, France on March 13.

For 30 years, Manna served as a traditional social service agency in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., near the Sodexo USA headquarters. Under Jackie’s vision and leadership, the agency has committed to a holistic, systemic approach to unleashing the power of community connections, through innovative use of technology, justice-minded initiatives aimed at addressing root causes of hunger, and bold experimentation.

(Left to right) Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation’s Executive Director, Shondra Jenkins; Sodexo’s SVP & Chief Human Resources Officer, Gerri Mason Hall; Manna Food Center’s CEO, Jackie DeCarlo; Sodexo’s SVP Corporate Responsibility & Global Chief Diversity Officer, Rohini Anand; and Sodexo’s Group General Counsel, Robert Stern. 

“In Montgomery County, MD, which is one of the richest counties in our state, one in three schoolchildren are food insecure,” said DeCarlo. “We are so pleased to receive this award, which will enable us to expand our Mobile Kitchen & Pop-Up Pantry so we can provide kids with fresh fruit and vegetables after school.”

Montgomery County’s Food Security Plan suggests that financial barriers, transportation and a lack of food preparation knowledge are common factors that prevent Montgomery County families from eating a healthful diet. Seventy percent of county adults do not meet the recommended number of daily vegetable servings. Nicknamed “Manny,” Manna’s mobile kitchen program is designed to tackle two barriers at once by bringing nutritious foods and cooking skills to the community. This school year, Manny began offering educational opportunities to some of the 30,000 elementary school students in the Montgomery County Public Schools eligible for free and reduced meals. This culinary classroom on wheels is an innovative solution to increase access to nutrition education and nutritious foods in Montgomery County.

The second annual Women Stop Hunger Awards recognize a woman or group of women on the front lines of fighting hunger in their community through programs led by and for women. All recipients were chosen based on a number of criteria including whether their initiatives are innovative, scalable, impactful, and target communities with the greatest need.

(Left to right) Sodexo’s SVP Corporate Responsibility & Global Chief Diversity Officer, Rohini Anand, with awardees Elizandra Cerqueira, Nigest Haile Goshu, Manna Food Center’s Jackie DeCarlo, Nonhlanhla Joye, Brigitte Miché, and Sophie Bellon, Chairwoman of the Sodexo Board of Directors.

With a staff that is 61 percent female, Manna is supported by a strong coalition of female Board members and volunteers and ambitious new projects like “Manny” are changing the way hunger is addressed in the community.

“Women can be the key to fighting hunger in communities around the globe, and Jackie DeCarlo exemplifies that potential,” said Shondra B. Jenkins, executive director of the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation. “Stop Hunger is proud to honor Jackie, and confident that Manna Food Center will not only turn this award into food for Montgomery County children who experience hunger today, but also provide them with the culinary and nutrition education skills that will make them less likely to experience hunger tomorrow.”

Stop Hunger is a global network of non-profit organizations working for a hunger-free world. The Stop Hunger Awards presented on March 13 were part of the organization’s annual fundraising dinner that brings together more than 500 donors, partners, volunteers and representatives of local and international associations. Other recipients of the 2018 Women Stop Hunger Award were Nonhlanhla Joye of Umgibe Farming Organics & Training Institute in South Africa, Nigest Haile Goshu of the Center for Accelerated Women’s Economic Empowerment (CAWEE) in Ethiopia, Elizandra Cerqueira with Paraisópolis Women’s Association in Brazil, and Brigitte Miché of Restos du Cœur in France.

“I am humbled to be included with such dedicated women from all over the world doing remarkable work to enhance economic, social, and environmental development and feed families who experience hunger in their communities,” said DeCarlo. “Stop Hunger should be commended for supporting women’s empowerment and striving to ensure the basic needs of all people are met, and we at Manna Food Center will certainly use this award to further that goal.”

Manna Food Center’s Fight Against Childhood Hunger


By: Danielle Ferguson and Danny Turner (Manna Dietetic Interns)


Childhood hunger is something that hits deep in the heart of our society. According to the Frontline documentary Poor Kids, there are 14 million children currently living in poverty in the United States. Some of these children don’t know where their next meal is coming from, or if they will have a place to live the next day. This film follows the story of several families each struggling to find a way to afford basic everyday needs. As future Registered Dietitians, we know that working to improve health and wellbeing through nutrition in our community is incredibly important. It was heartbreaking to find out how widespread and severe childhood hunger is. Thankfully there are organizations like Manna that are working ceaselessly to provide food to those in need. Having the opportunity to be a part of Manna for two weeks, we have experienced how dedicated they are to ending hunger in Montgomery County, especially for the children that live here.


Manna’s mission is the create a hunger free zone in Montgomery County and their vision for the future is “nothing less than food security for all – where hunger no longer exists, as residents are self-sufficient and providing for themselves.” We have seen the work that the employees, volunteers, and community contribute every day through food sorting, packing, cleaning, and distributing to get it to those who need it most. One of our favorite projects Manna currently operates is the Smart Snacks program for the children in the local community. Smart Sacks provides bags of food to over 2,800 children each week to bridge the weekend gap when they can’t rely on school provided meals. The bags include whole grains, low sodium canned vegetables, lean meats, and healthier snack options so that these children can enjoy their weekends without worrying so much about their meals. We can all agree that children should never have to worry about when their next meal will be.


Combating hunger throughout the country is a large task, but an attainable one that begins with small steps. The best way to start is looking at ways you can help in your own community, and there are a lot of ways to contribute to the cause of ending hunger in Montgomery County. The Smart Sacks program is just one facet of Manna, and they are always in need of helping hands to carry out their everyday work. If you feel like you want to contribute to Manna’s mission, but aren’t quite sure where to start, check out this list of things Manna needs most!


Here are some ways that YOU can help:


  1. Donate money – As a non-profit, Manna relies largely on charitable donations to stay in operation
  2. Volunteer – Manna recruits both individuals and groups as volunteers
  3. Donate Food – Click here to find out which types of food are the most helpful to donate

Malori here. What comes to mind when you think of a food bank? Prior to working at Manna, I envisioned a line of people signing in to receive a box of canned food and going on their way. It didn’t take long for me to see that it wasn’t as simple as I thought. Manna provides non-perishable items in addition to bread, produce, prepared foods, frozen meat, and baked goods. None of this happens without a hefty load of scheduling and synchronization of multiple departments. While most of Manna’s sites function under this conventional model of distribution, when the opportunity to collaborate arises, Manna offers another model of food distribution.

Just over two years old, Manna’s Choice Pantry at Colesville Presbyterian Church (CPC) is serving our neighbors at its capacity of 70 households each month. On October 28th, I had the opportunity to observe the pantry in action and speak with several participants and volunteers about their experience. It truly is a special site where Manna’s values: respect, service, and partnership are exemplified.

A core team of eight volunteers, co-lead by Toby Weismiller and Mary Scott, oversee the operation every month. On distribution days, as many as twenty-five volunteers, make the four hours of distribution go by as smoothly as possible. Through two shifts, volunteers dedicate their time setting up; checking in participants; stocking bread, meat, and produce tables; preparing refreshments; guiding participants through the shopping room; and bagging groceries.

image-on-mal-blogParticipants choose and tag the boxes they want.  Volunteers then bag the food just like at the grocery store.


Much like at our main distribution center, participants are already in line more than an hour before opening, but what’s different about the choice pantry at CPC is the scene that awaits shoppers. As daylight streams into the grand room, participants are met with warm greetings as they choose a seat at the collection of tables and wait for their number to  be called. Waiting is easier when there’s a chair to sit in and an array of refreshments like coffee, fresh fruit, cheese and crackers, and baked goodies available. During their wait, participants are encouraged to select their bread, produce, and meat in between conversations with other participants and volunteers alike. Stacy picks up for another family and finds “the longer she sits, the more likely she is to talk to someone new.”

Orlando, a first time participant, asked me if he could have a banana. He remarked, “This is really nice and organized, I feel like I can be patient.” Joyce has visited the pantry three times with her husband José and loves the “ability to choose the foods that [she wants] and the fact that there is a nice selection of food available.”

Many of the participants echoed these sentiments and while Valerie, finds it comfortable and not rushed, she does miss seeing Ms. Sunshine, also known as Ms. Blanche Hall, a long-time Manna employee. Patience is necessary as the pantry’s main caveat is the wait time as the shopping process varies depending on the participants and the fact that only five participants can go through the dry goods section at a time.

image-2-mal-blogParticipants have the opportunity to choose the items they want right off the shelves that have been organized by food group and type.


Longer wait time aside, Manna’s Choice Pantry at CPC offers our neighbors in need a unique opportunity to make more of their own decisions about the foods they’ll eat over the next couple of weeks. Though this model of distribution takes a concerted effort on both Manna and CPC’s part, two years in, Toby is pleasantly surprised about the ease of the process as the pantry has grown from serving 20 to now 70 families.

Building on the momentum of CPC’s success and in the spirit of respect, service, and partnership, Manna is proud to be able to expand the choice pantry model in partnership with Silver Spring United Methodist Church starting November 12th. The choice pantry at SSUMC will be open two Saturdays each month with the capacity to support 45 families each distribution day. Be sure to reach out to us if you’re interested in being a part of this incredible work happening right here in Montgomery County!


 2016 Food Waste Summit

Hosted by the Keystone Policy Center and National Consumers League

When: May 11, 2016, 8am-4pm

Manna’s Executive Director, Jackie DeCarlo will be attending the 2016 Food Waste Summit. Jackie will be participating in round table discussions with leaders from government, industry, and NGO’s regarding innovative approaches, priorities, and promising strategies. Discuss ongoing consumer-facing initiatives related to food waste in the public, both private and civic sectors.

Check out Manna’s Twitter page for “in the moment” tweets of the summit from Jackie!


Manna Food Center’s Smart Sacks program has been hard at work strengthening an important collaboration with two other weekend bag programs serving our County’s elementary school students.  Women Who Care Ministries and Kids in Need Distributors have been part of a Manna-led coalition for nearly 2 years now and our hard work and cooperation is about to pay off, but we need your help!HR Kids backpacks

The coalition presented our plan to serve more students than ever before and County Council members Roger Berliner, Craig Rice and George Leventhal are supporting a request for an additional $150,000 dollars in the County budget to make this happen. 

Although we have some great champions on the Council we need support from all of the members, including your representative, to get this funding approved! 

By May 17, the Council will have to make final decisions on budget allocations, reconciliations, etc. and they need to hear public support of these funds in the next two weeks.  You can find the contact information for your Council member at this link

Please take a moment over the next few days to let the Council know how valuable weekend programs are for MCPS students and their families.  We are extremely grateful to our donors, volunteers and partners who help our organizations reach over 4,600 elementary students each weekend, but with more than 29,000 students eligible for assistance there is still work to be done.

With your continued support we know we can do more!

The Rockville Farmers Market will reopen on Saturday, May 14 giving shoppers a place to find fresh produce, plants, baked goods, soaps and more.

Several returning vendors such as Great Harvest Bread Company, Gilda’s Produce and Quarter Branch Farm will have a variety of goods on sale. New additions to the Rockville Farmers Market include Bethesda Salt Cave, Brookeville Beer Farm, Ev & Maddy’s and Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm.

The market will be open on Saturdays from May 14 thru November 19 during the hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Rockville Farmers Market will be located in the jury parking lot at the intersection of East Jefferson Street and Monroe Street in Rockville Town Center.

For more information, visit the City of Rockville website.

Give and Ride April 15 – 21

Mark your calendars and spread the word! Starting on Sunday April 15th and running through Saturday, April 21st, passengers can ride for FREE by bringing non-perishable food items to any Ride On bus in Montgomery County.

Ride & Donate at the same time!

Even if you have a Ride On pass, bring a can and save a fare! If transferring to other buses, bring additional donations. All donations will benefit Manna and the Montgomery County community.

Don’t know what to donate? CLICK HERE to see Manna’s Most Needed Food Items list!

*Please avoid donating any food items with glass/breakable containers.


Charity Off The Hook at The Tavern at Ivy City

April 26, 2016  6:00 PM (6 PM – 10 PM)

Join The Tavern at Ivy City for the fifth annual Charity Off The Hook Seafood Celebration. This event will benefit local noteworthy charities, including Manna Food Center!

When: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 6-10 p.m.

The Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse
1356 Okie Street,
NE Washington, DC

Tickets: $65 per person Includes tastes of dishes prepared by all nine chefs, raw oyster shucking stations, smoked seafood station, passed appetizers, beer garden, and wine.

This year’s participating chefs include:
Victor Albisu: Del Campo & Taco Mamba
Matt Baker: Gravitas
Scott Drewno: The Source by Wolfgang Puck Mike Isabella:
Mike Isabella Concepts
Alberto Baizano Bollera: The Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse
Danny Lee: Mandu 18th Street & K Street
Dave Stein: Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place
Bobby Jones: The Point Crab House & Grill
Haider Karoum: Proof, Doi Moi, & Estadio
Matt Hill: The Liberty Tavern

CLICK HERE to purchase your tickets now!

For the second year in a row, Manna organized our “Heroes Against Hunger” reception on April 7 at VisArts in Rockville. We picked the theme of heroes because we are fortunate every day to see heroism in action.  We see it in the 3,700 families we serve each month, who struggle with not always knowing where their next meal is coming from; We see it in their neighbors, who volunteer their time in our warehouse and at our grocery store tours; we see it in the faith based groups, schools and businesses that organize food drives;  We see heroism in our Board, some of who have personal stories of needing the support of free and reduced meals at school or food stamps during a family crisis.  We often say at Manna that no one agency can end hunger.   We also see heroism in the actions of our peers, like the staff of Shepherd’s Table and MCCH, who worked through the winter blizzards determined not to close their doors to the homeless.

At our reception, we spent an evening celebrating those types of heroes as well as two special guests.

jamie miller giant award shondra miller sodexo heroes against hunger proclamation

Corporate Hero Against Hunger award: Giant Food

Back in 1983, Manna Food Center was founded by the community and Giant was present at the creation as our first food donor. They started us off with 16,000 pounds of food. These days at 6:30 a.m. our drivers head out for their daily rescue of food from dozens of Giants.   Giant was a role model for the community because now Manna rescues from every major supermarket chain in the County.

Giant also hosts every fall our annual Community Service Week food drive and every Dr. King weekend you can see students, civic leaders and average citizens participating in food drives at all 27 Giant locations in the County to help us stock our shelves for the winter. This spring, April 23-24 and May 7-8,  Giant will be hosting food drives at a dozen stores conducted in partnership with the Montgomery County Muslim Foundation.

Whenever Giant hosts a food drive, I make a point of popping in at stores and I’m often so pleased by how the Giant staff embrace these community events. I go up to the customer service desk and staff, see my Manna nametag and always know who we are and what we are about.   I particularly get a kick out of the store managers who have friendly competitions to see which store can collect the most food by encouraging their shoppers to give generously.   We were proud at HAH to present Giant Food with our first Corporate Hero Against Hunger award.

Just as no one agency can end hunger, even more so, no one sector alone—not corporations, not the government, not all the nonprofits put together can end hunger by themselves. It is a community effort.  As was recently discussed at Impact Now in Silver Spring, it will take a community effort to share prosperity, to create an abundant community.  It will take authentic, courageous, collective work.

But like most things in life, there is a paradox. It is also true, that businesses, governments, neighborhoods are made up of people, of individuals, and it is very appropriate to raise up the example of outstanding individuals to celebrate what they do in and for their communities.  That’s why Manna presented, Shondra Jenkins, our Hero Against Hunger award tonight.

When I first came on board at Manna, Shondra popped in with a donation, and it was clear that she was a familiar face and that she kind of knew her way around our big warehouse. That’s because for many years, Shondra has been contributing in many ways to Manna’s work, particularly our fight against childhood hunger.  In fact, she and her husband, helped us start a weekend bag initiative, now known as the Goldberg Smart Sacks program,  which helps feed low-income kids and their families every Friday of the school year.  She and Greg helped us design the program to be a true community partnership between Manna, Montgomery County Public Schools, and a sponsoring agency, the first one was Greg’s credit union.  What started out at one school, Summit Hill Elementary back in 2005, is now in 60 schools with more than 50 partners such as congregations, corporations and civic organizations, who work together to reach 2,491 students each week and provide tasty, well balanced food for their families.

Manna has taken a leadership role in organizing a coalition of other nonprofits who have replicated the model and together we’ve establish a goal of doubling the number of school children who receive bags throughout the county. We make those ambitious goals because of the original inspiration Shondra and her family provided.  In fact, Shondra’s mom, Elaine, has been known to drop off food at the warehouse.  Just last week Shondra’s son, Tyler asked for a tour of Manna because his mom was talking to him about food recovery as a way to help end hunger over a family dinner.

Shondra’s family is an inspiration and she also did serve on our Board of Directors as a representative of the Sodexo corporation. These days Shondra is an important advisor to me, especially with strategic work with our Community Food Rescue initiative as our County works together with food donors, food assistance organizations, and food runners, to increase the amount of food recovered in Montgomery County by 20%.   I am so appreciative of the leadership she shows Manna and the entire movement to end hunger.   I’ve seen Shondra in action at national conferences and she is an expert, a networker, and an inspiration.

As the 2016 Individual Hero Against Hunger, Shondra is a great role model to us all and she takes her places among many others in the community working to make Montgomery County Hunger Free. We salute her and all of you, our Manna Food Center supporters.

Jackie DeCarlo
Executive Director



Community Food Rescue offers this FREE food safety webinar for food rescue recipient organization staff and volunteers and CFR volunteer food runners who will be actively engaged in recovering unused surplus food from food businesses.  This modified ServSafe training will cover four main areas with special emphasis on how to conduct a CFR food run and what food runners need to know:

1.       Basic Food Safety

2.       Personal Hygiene

3.       Cross-Contamination prevention

4.       Time & Temperature Control

Community Food Rescue guidelines will be covered and each participant will leave with the knowledge needed to safely receive food from donors, transport and deliver rescued food under proper temperature controls.  Cheryl Kollin, Community Food Rescue, Jenna Umbriac, Manna Food Center and Teresa Johnson, Family Services, Inc. will be leading the training.

Click here to register!

The Montgomery County Food Council is updating its strategy for addressing food access issues and promoting food rescue in the County and we want you to be involved! Two of the Council’s work groups on Food Access and Food Recovery are merging and we’re hosting a short retreat to celebrate past accomplishments and outline a new path forward.

If you’re interesting in being a part of these efforts, please join us for a public meeting on April 10th from 2-5p.  We’ll work together to set measurable goals, name the new group, and agree on consistent day/time/place for monthly meetings. Please click here to register via Eventbrite.

When: April 10, 2016

Where: Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church/Growing Graceful Together
8011 Old Georgetown Road
Bethesda, MD 20814

Shop at The Market at River Falls on April 1st between 10:00 am & 7:00 pm for their Community First Day! 25% of your purchase will go to benefit Manna Food Center and the Montgomery County community. Take this opportunity to enjoy some gourmet favorites and donate to Manna at the same time!

The Market at River Falls
10124 River Road
Potomac, MD 20854


About The Market at River Hills

Since opening its doors in 1998, the Market at River Falls has served as the singular resource in Potomac, Maryland, for high quality, fresh seafood, meats, and prepared foods. Under the new stewardship of husband-and-wife team James McWhorter and Yasmin Abadian – long-time Potomac residents and avid Market patrons – the Market at River Falls has been revitalized with fresh new offerings delivered by the same knowledgeable, friendly service staff, including David Fletcher, Michael “Junior” Turgott, Steve Fela, and Erika Torrey.

Yasmin moved to the Potomac area with her family in 1966, when her father accepted a position with the World Bank. She has considered Potomac her home for decades, watching it grow and expand and is extremely proud to now be a part of this iconic community market.

With over 35 years in the food distribution business, Jim has a unique perspective on the Market. He is familiar with the farmers, growers and producers as well as the top chefs and purveyors in the Washington, DC Metro area. His knowledge will be put into good use with new local items and special events, highlighting certain products as well as introducing the community to some of our area’s finest chefs.

To that end, The Market at River Falls is proud to offer a curated selection of high-quality meats, seafood, produce, baked goods and prepared items from only the finest vendors, including products from local producers such as: Grayson Farms Beef, Stackowski Cured Meats, Gordy’s Pickle Jar, Jrink, LaPasta, Soupergirl, Cakelove, Whisked and Firefly Farms, to name a few.

Montgomery Community Media (MCM) is preparing for the fourth annual, “Day in the Life of Montgomery County,” which is set for Friday, April 22. MCM invites local shutterbugs, professional and amateur photographers alike to help capture what your day is like in Montgomery County.

This year MCM is raising community sharing to an entirely new level. Every digital image or video submitted on http://you-report.mymcmedia.org/ will be matched by a $1 donation to benefit Manna Food Center.

 Email your images and videos to pix@mymcmedia.org
 Tweet photos @mymcmedia #ditl.


We welcome all photographs and videos. Use your mobile device or your best digital camera, it does not matter. Remember, the best camera you have is the one in your hand at the moment!

Rules Specific to “A Day in the Life of Montgomery County”

Recommendations (Help us showcase your photo.):

Take a look at last year’s “Day in the Life of Montgomery County.”

The Food Recovery Network is excited to host the inaugural 2016 National Food Recovery Dialogue at the University of Maryland, College Park on April 2nd through April 4th.

This epic event will convene student leaders, and other movers and shakers from across the food recovery, food justice, policy and environmental spaces. Through workshops, panels and presentations, we will celebrate our achievements in shifting the culture from food waste to food recovery, and inspire and promote continued leadership and skill-building to tackle the world’s biggest problems with practical solutions.

Manna’s Executive Director, Jackie DeCarlo will be presenting a workshop representing Community Food Rescue, Is Food Recovery a False Solution to Hunger?”

CLICK HERE for REGISTRATION and details about the event!!


Join Manna’s Nutrition Educator, Lindsey Seegers, as she teams up with Mark Mills of Chocolate & Tomatoes Farm in a Chopped-style competition against Paladar’s Executive Chef, Gregory Webb and Pablo Castillo of Whole Foods Market in the Kentlands.

Judges include: Andrew Metcalf, Bethesda Beat Editor for Bethesda Magazine, Julie Wright, Anchor and Co-Host from WJLA-TV and Gina Dropik, Lakelands Community Association.

Providing entertaining commentary will be sports talk show host Chuck Carroll.


Monday, March 14th
4:30 – 6:30 PM

Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar
203 Crown Park Ave
Gaithersburg, MD 20878


This happy-hour fundraising event features an entertaining competition and lovely passed hors d’ourves.

Space is limited, so call to reserve your spot today! (301) 330-4400.  Suggested donation of $10 at the door.

Manna Food Center will open at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb 16, following the Montgomery County government, to allow everyone time to arrive at our warehouse safely.


Please join the Montgomery County Food Council for their next public event:

Eat at Home: Why Buying Local Matters

Wednesday, February 24, 2016, 7-9pm

Denizens Brewing Co.

1115 East-West Highway, Silver Spring


What impact do local food businesses make on our economy? How can Montgomery County residents shop and dine to make a difference in our community? What are the benefits of buying local and what does “local” mean?

Don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy delicious local food and beverage and learn more about how you can support a robust, sustainable food system in Montgomery County!


Click here to Register to attend this FREE event!

Visit www.mocofoodcouncil.com/ or email mocofoodcouncil@gmail.com for more information.

The Montgome

Montgomery County Food Councils’ Eat Local Challenge is back with new basket ingredients!

For those who don’t know, The Eat Local Challenge is an opportunity for home cooks to take local, seasonal ingredients and create their own recipes using at least three of the following ingredients:

(We have included local farms or stores where each of these items can be purchased in Montgomery County. Please note that availability of farm products varies throughout the growing season.)

Our Winter Basket ingredients:

RumTwin Valley Distillers in Rockville, MD, found in most local MoCo Liquor Stores
ApplesButler’s Orchard in Germantown, MD
Winter SquashComus Market in Dickerson, MD
LeeksPlow and Stars Farm in Poolesville, MD
BeerDenizens Brewing Company in Silver Spring, MD and 7 Locks Brewing in Rockville, MD
KaleChocolates and Tomatoes Farm in Poolesville, MD, available at the Olney Farm Market
TurnipsRed Wiggler Community Farm in Clarksburg, MD
BeefSavage & Sons Farm in Dickerson, MD
Swiss ChardChocolates and Tomatoes Farm in Poolesville, MD, available at the Olney Farm Market

Final recipe submissions are due by March 1st

Recipes will be tested and judged by local chefs and culinary students; the winning recipe will be selected based on taste, creativity, and use of ingredients.

A winner will be announced on April 1st.

Winning recipes will be featured on the Food Council website and Facebook page, and possible other prizes include:
Various gift cards to local businesses, restaurants, and markets
The winning dish featured on the menu of a local restaurant and/or in the prepared food section of a local market

Each submission must include: Name, City/Town, Recipe Name, Step-by-step Recipe with full ingredient list, and a sentence or two about why you choose to eat and buy local.

All recipe submissions become the property of the Montgomery County Food Council

We look forward to seeing the delicious recipes our followers will create!

For more information, to learn more about the contest rules, or if you have any other questions, please email Eatlocalmoco@gmail.com


All five Montgomery County Whole Foods Market locations will be participating in 5% Day! On Wednesday, February 17th, Bethesda, Friendship Heights, Kentlands, Rockville & Silver Spring Whole Foods will be donating 5% of all sales to Manna Food Center.


You can help a neighbor in need, Shop and Donate at the same time!



Bethesda: 5269 River Rd., Bethesda MD 20816

Friendship Heights: 4420 Willard Ave., Chevy Chase MD 20815

Kentlands: 316 Kentlands Blvd., Gaithersburg MD 20878

Rockville: 11355 Woodglen Dr., Rockville MD 20852

Silver Spring: 833 Wayne Ave., Silver Spring MD 20910



Presented by Giant Food & Kaiser Permanente

Thursday, April 7th 
5:30 – 8:00 PM
VisArts at Rockville Town Square

Join Manna for a unique event honoring leaders in our community who are making a difference in the fight against hunger.

Reception will feature a social hour, heavy hors d’oeuvres & a meaningful program.   

2016 Hero Honorees Include

Shondra Jenkins
Executive Director, Sodexo Foundation &
Director, Community Relations, Sodexo

Giant Food


Individual Tickets Pricing:  $75
Space is limited so purchase your tickets today!

To partner with Manna as an Event Sponsor, Click Here



Donate and Save at Herson’s Honda in Rockville! Donate to Herson’s food drive during the month of February and save on services and new Honda’s. Donations will benefit Manna Food Center and the Montgomery County community!

$100 OFF: Any purchase or lease (per canned food item donation) *This offer is not valid with any other offers. Maximum discount is $300.00. Offer Expires 2/29/2016

15% OFF: Any service (with a donation of 5+ canned food items) *This offer is not valid on the purchase of tires, brakes or parts. Maximum discount is $200.00. Offer Expires 2/29/2016

Hersons Honda Flyer


The Community Food Rescue Mini-Grants Program is back, with support from Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, the Mead Family Foundation, and Burness!  There are opportunities to receive grants for improving capacity and infrastructure of the local food recovery system, as well as for inventive and collaborative approaches in food recovery. The Mini-Grants process will be managed again this year by Intentional Philanthropy and Manna Food Center, with the generous support of the Mead Family Foundation. Applications can be requested from astoria@intentionalphilanthropy.com and are due by Tuesday, March 1, 2016.

This Mini-Grants Program will amplify efforts underway by Community Food Rescue (CFR), a network coordinated by Manna Food Center to develop a food recovery system throughout Montgomery County, Maryland. Please become familiar with the goals and approaches of CFR by visiting www.communityfoodrescue.org.  This network enhances the good work of businesses, agencies, and organizations that already recover perfectly good food before it is thrown away by building capacity through grants, training and other resources.

Please CLICK HERE for a detailed overview of CFR Mini-Grants Program application guidelines, including:

Over 1,500 Montgomery County residents may be impacted by a recent change in SNAP policy. Effective January 1 “able-bodied adults without dependents” can only receive SNAP (food stamp) benefits for 3 months in a 3 year period. This change may impact over 1500 Montgomery County residents, causing many to lose their benefits starting in April.

To better understand who might be affected and how these changes will impact County residents, Manna Food Center is hosting an information session on Thursday, February 4th from 2p-3:30p at the Casey Health Institute in Gaithersburg.  Staff from Maryland Hunger Solutions will discuss the new time limit and ways that social service providers can effectively support individuals impacted by this rule.

This is a public event, but space is limited. Please RSVP by visiting http://tinyurl.com/z3j6x9u, scanning the QR code below or e-mailing jenna@mannafood.org.


When: Thursday, February 4th (2-3:30pm)

Where: Casey Health Institute, 800 S. Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg, MD 20877


Manna is back to work but will open at 9 a.m. on Thursday, January 28.  Given the road conditions, we want to make sure our staff have the time they need to travel.  Thank you for your patience as we work to resume our normal operations of rescuing and sharing food as safely as possible.

The Chinese Culture and Community Service Center (CCACC) will host the Annual Lunar New Year Festival in Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg on Saturday, February 6th through February 14th.

Manna’s Executive Director, Jackie DeCarlo will be attending the opening ceremony on February 6th that will kick off a two-week long celebration to include live entertainment, colorful lion dances, special events and hands-on activities. Performance, Displays & Workshops throughout the celebration!


Event:                            Chinese Lunar New Year Festival

Gathering Place:      Center Stage at Lakeforest Mall 

                                         701 Russell Avenue, Gaithersburg MD 20877          

Date:                             February 6th , 7th, 13th, 14th,  2015


We look forward to celebrating the Lunar New Year celebration with the Montgomery County community! 

CCACC Lunar New Year Celebration


We are honored to once again participate in the MLK Day of Service as our community works to be a hunger-free county.  Along side community partners, volunteers will prepare 100,000 meals to be distributed through Manna Food Center.

Join us at the

Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center

for the service project and to enjoy the Nonprofit Fair.

5701 Marinelli Road
Rockville, MD 20852

Date: January 18, 2016
Time: 1 – 3 pm


Food-justice startup will share its innovative business idea on the January 8, 2016 episode

BALTIMORE, Md.Hungry Harvest, a Maryland business aimed at eliminating food waste and ending hunger in the United States, is set to appear on ABC’s Shark Tank on January 8, 2016 at 9:00pm EST. It is the first to appear on the show from the Washington DC/Maryland area, as well as the first ‘ugly produce’ business to pitch to the Sharks. Founder & CEO Evan Lutz, a Pikesville (Baltimore suburb) native and a 2014 University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business graduate, will pitch his business idea to the Sharks, in hopes that they will help him in promoting food justice.


Lutz co-founded Hungry Harvest in May 2014 after learning that six billion pounds of fresh produce is thrown away every year. The organization sells “surplus” produce, produce that would otherwise be wasted because of its odd size or shape. This produce is no different quality than produce you would buy at a grocery store or farmer’s market.  Hungry Harvest delivers a box of surplus fruits and vegetables to subscribers in the Maryland and D.C. areas every week, year round, for discounted prices. For every box delivered, one is donated to those in need.


“Having the opportunity to appear on Shark Tank is a dream come true,” says Lutz. “I believe that Shark Tank is the vehicle to help propel our local, mission-driven business to scale across the country.”

To date, Hungry Harvest has recovered 300,000 pounds of produce from going to waste and delivered 100,000 pounds to those in need. With the help of one of the Sharks, Lutz foresees those numbers significantly increasing as they expand across the US.


During the show, local viewers watching will have the opportunity to participate in a trivia contest on social media to win six months worth of free produce. Questions will be episode-related.


Remember to tune in on January 8th at 9:00pm EST to see if one of the Sharks will help Lutz to bring his dreams to fruition. Shark Tank has reinvigorated entrepreneurship in America, and Lutz, along with the rest of the team at Hungry Harvest, is looking for the chance to secure a deal that could eventually lead to ending hunger and food waste in the United States.


About Hungry Harvest: Hungry Harvest, LLC is on a mission to end food waste and hunger in the US. We deliver surplus produce to subscribers every week, year round, for discounted prices. For every box delivered, we donate a box to those in need. We sell produce with purpose.

Vote For Manna!

News Generation will be donating to Manna and two other organizations, located in Montgomery County. Each organization listed is personally meaningful to a News Generation team member.

Voting has started and will continue until Wednesday, December 23 at noon Eastern. Manna needs your vote!

CLICK HERE TO VOTE!  Please vote and share the voting link with others to do the same!
Thank you for your participation this holiday season!

Click here to learn more about News Generation.



Please come and enjoy the 2015 Winter Wonderland Holiday Light Display at 20304 Lubar Way, Brookeville, MD.   Stroll along the paths to see the snowman, penguins, candyland, polar bears and so much more.

Donations accepted for Manna Food Center (cash/check, non-perishable food items), and the Nina Hyde Breast Cancer Center part of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Parking available on Lubar Way on the left after entering in the common area and at the entrance to Lubar Drive. These areas will be identified with signs.  Please park here and walk down to the display.

Handicap parking in front of 20309 Lubar Way.


As Manna serves on the Food Council, we will attend the upcoming Food Council meeting with Anne Palmer and Mark Winne of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Monday December 7th 9:30am-1pm in Rockville or Bethesda. Council Members will meet with JHCLF for guidance on developing and executing an advocacy campaign.

This event is closed to the public.

Manna, as the Coordinator of Community Food Rescue, is responsible for helping shape policies related to composting of food that can’t be shared with people or animals, and will be in attendance at the  Environmental Impact Public Meeting. This meeting takes place Thursday, December 3rd, 12-1:30pm in Derwood at the Agricultural History Farm Park: “On-Farm Composting in Montgomery County: Opportunities, Resources, and Challenges.” The main goal of the event is to share information on new opportunities for on-farm composting due to recent regulation changes.


Manna’s very own Jenna Umbriac, Director of Nutrition Programs will be presenting at the Ending Hunger in Montgomery County, Breaking the Cycle Conference, she will be speaking about the barrier to accessing healthy food in Montgomery County. Jenna will be joined by many other speakers in the community, including one of Manna’s past Board Members, Marla Caplon, Director of Nutrition and Supervisor of Health and P.E., Montgomery County Public Schools.

This Healthy Montgomery Eat Well Be Active Partnership conference will be held on Wednesday, December 9th, 9:00am at:

Agricultural History Farm, 18410 Muncaster Rd., Derwood MD. 20855



Panel Organizations:

Manna Food Center

Montgomery County Food Council

Kaiser Permanente

Women, Infants, and Children, WIC

Montgomery County Department of Planning

Montgomery County Public Schools

CCI Health & Wellness Centers

Unity Health Care Health Center: Upper Cardozo

Montgomery County Department of Recreation


Saturday, December 5, 10:30 AM

AG Kitchen’s Alex Garcia faces off against Manna’s Director of Nutrition Programs, Jenna Umbriac in a friendly Chopped-style competition, using surprise CANNED ingredients, donated by Whole Foods Market, Silver Spring. It all goes down during FRESHFARM Market at the Fountain Plaza Stage in Downtown Silver Spring!

With celebrity emcee Tommy McFly and special judges Carol Sugarman of Bethesda Magazine and Meredith Bethune of DC EATER, this unCANny culinary exhibition is not to be missed!

Free Winter Festival!

Saturday, December 5th 1pm- 4pm

Fair Hill Shops welcomes the community to celebrate a Winter Festival and to donate canned food items to benefit Manna Food Center on Saturday, December 5 from 1p – 4p.

Each donation will receive a cool LED light-up mug with a package of Ghirardelli Hot Cocoa!

Festival activities include:

Winter Festival Details!


Rockville Town Square Holiday Open House and Tree Lighting!

Save the date! Celebrate the holidays at the Square with their annual Holiday Open House and Tree Lighting event on Thursday, December 3rd from 6:30-9pm.  Customers can bring a donation in exchange for their horse and carriage ride!

Schedule of Events
Date: Thursday, December 3, 2015
Time: 6:30 – 9:00 pm
5:30-6:30pm: Live Holiday Music
6:30pm: Tree Lighting Ceremony & Santa’s Arrival, hosted by WUSA9’s Nikki Burdine
7pm: Dawn Crafton Dance Studio Performance, Main Stage near Thai Pavilion
7:45pm: The Next Ice Age Ice Dancing Performances, Ice rink
8pm: Theaterpalooza Performance, Main Stage Near Thai Pavilion
7 – 9pm: Photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus (Bring your own camera!)
Horse & Carriage Rides with non-perishable food or cash donation*
Holiday treats for sale on the plaza, provided by Dawson’s Market
Strolling entertainment
Balloon art

 * Food and monetary donations from the horse and carriage rides will benefit Manna Food Center!

Event is weather permitting. Please check the Rockville Town Square Twitter and Facebook for live updates.

Click here for event details!


Friday, November 20 from 6-8pm

Join Rio Washingtonian Center on the Lakefront Plaza (near Uncle Julio’s and Joe’s Crab Shack) as they kick-off the holiday season with the annual tree lighting celebration!

Family-friendly events and activities including:

Meet Santa & Mrs. Claus (Santa will be arriving at approximately 6:30pm and must leave promptly at 8pm to get back to the North Pole)

Samples from Restaurants and Shops

Strolling Holiday Entertainment

Horse and Carriage Rides

Giveaways and more!


Drop off a canned food item for Manna Food Center at the RIO Washingtonian Guest Services Tent!


CLICK HERE for printable flyer

* Please note that the Balloon Twisters, Santa & Mrs. Claus and the horse and carriages will be leaving promptly at 8pm, please expect the lines to close for these activities prior 7:30pm.


Register to win a VIP Experience from RIO Washingtonian!

One winner will receive VIP parking, dinner for four at Copper Canyon ($200), and cut-the-line passes to Santa, the Carousel, and horse and carriage rides. CLICK HERE to enter.

Rio Tree Lighting Sign

From November 16th to 20th, Results Leadership Group will be hosting a food drive in the WRIT One Central Plaza office building, with donations to benefit Manna. Office residents and community members are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to the Results Leadership Group office at 11300 Rockville Pike, Suite 1001 during the week of the drive.

WHAT: Non-Perishable Food Drive
WHEN: November 16th to November 20th
WHERE: 11300 Rockville Pike Suite1001
Rockville MD 20852
WHY: To alleviate Hunger in Montgomery County, MD!

Click here for more information.

Join the fun at Downtown Silver Spring on the Fountain Plaza, Saturday, November 14th at 6pm to light up Well-Seasoned Greetings and kick off our season-long Foodie Festivus! Well-Seasoned Greetings, an impressive 30-foot public art installation, features illuminated take-out containers, “u-tinsel,” spatula snowflakes and topped with a stunning glass bottle star.


Bring a canned food donation to benefit Manna Food Center!

Click here for more information!

Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) will be accepting canned goods and non-perishable food items to pay for library fines October 21st through October 30th.

One food item brought in will equal $1 off on library fines! Food items should be taken to the library’s circulation desk. All food collected will be donated to Manna!

Donations should include only shelf-stable foods, such as canned fruits, vegetables and meats, dried beans, brown rice, quinoa, low sugar cereals, baby food, formula and vegetarian items. Home-canned items, opened foods, or foods past their expiration dates will not be accepted.

Customers must have existing fines or hold fees to participate in the Food for Fines program, but anyone may donate food items at the libraries during the drive. Food for Fines donations cannot be used towards fees for lost or damaged materials, collection agency fees, lost card fees or other charges.

For more information, contact local library branches, or visit https://montgomerycountypubliclibraries.blogspot.com/2018/10/food-for-fines-2018.html.

Ten Thousand Villages will be hosting a food drive to benefit Manna Food Center, October 21st through November 3rd.  Anyone who donates a food item will receive a 25% off coupon toward one full price item, to be used once through November 3rd.

Donations drop off: 107 Gibbs St., Unit D, Rockville 20850




About Ten Thousand Villages in Rockville, MD

Ten Thousand Villages in Rockville, MD, is a fair trade retailer of artisan-crafted home decor, personal accessories and gift items from across the globe. Featuring products from more than 130 artisan groups in some 38 countries, we are part of a network of over 390 retail outlets throughout the United States selling Ten Thousand Villages products.

As one of the world’s oldest and largest fair trade organizations, Ten Thousand Villages has spent more than 60 years cultivating trading relationships in which artisans receive a fair price for their work and consumers have access to distinctive handcrafted items. We seek to establish long-term buying relationships in places where skilled artisans are under- or unemployed, and in which they lack other opportunities for income. A founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), Ten Thousand Villages sees fair trade as an alternative approach to conventional international trade.

We are located in the new town square in Rockville. Gibbs Street runs parallel between North Washington Street and Maryland Avenue. Gibbs St. is a one way street connecting East Middle Lane to Bealls Ave. Park at the parking garages at Maryland Avenue and North Washington Street. Metered street parking is available as well.

2 hours of free garage parking with any purchase.


The Tempo Giusto Ensemble performs works by Handel, Haydn, Jacob, and Bach in a concert to help end hunger in the DC area. Featuring the talents of young performing artists Emma Resmini and Paul Wiancko, the ensemble partners with Music for Food with all financial proceeds going to support Manna Food Center.

[schema type=”event” evtype=”MusicEvent” url=”https://www.facebook.com/events/1500634860264133/” name=”Music for Food Concert” sdate=”2015-11-15″ stime=”02:00 pm” street=”Christ Lutheran Church 8011 Old Georgetown Rd” city=”Bethesda” state=”MD” postalcode=”20814″ country=”US” ]

What/Why: Downtown Crown restaurants offer tastes of their signature dishes while you enjoy live music, a beer garden and more! Tickets for food and beer will be sold on site and all proceeds will benefit Manna Food.

Downtown Crown chefs offer tastings of their signature dishes while you enjoy the beer garden presented by Old Town Pour House.

– Live Music
– Photo booth
– Giveaways and More!
– Plus purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win some exciting prizes!

Tasting tickets are two for $5 or seven tastes and one free beer for $15

100% of all ticket sales benefit Manna Food Center

More details available HERE.

FREE FOOD SAFETY TRAININGS Announcing Fall Training Schedule
If you work with a food assistance organization or if you are a volunteer food runner, sign up for one of Community Food Rescue’s FREE Safe Food Handling Trainings.Click on a date below to sign up.

Nov. 12 Training at Rainbow Community Development Center, Silver Spring

These FREE two hour trainings are intended for food rescue recipient organization staff and volunteers, and food runners who will be actively engaged in recovering unused surplus food from food businesses.  This abbreviated ServSafe training will cover 4 main areas:

  • Basic Food Safety
  • Personal Hygiene
  • Cross-Contamination prevention
  • Time & Temperature Control

Community Food Rescue food runner guidelines will be covered and each participant will leave with the knowledge needed to safely receive food from donors, transport and deliver rescued food under proper temperature controls.

Insulated bag keeps foods at the correct temperature during a food run. Instructions on the top of the bag, reminds food runners how to handle and transport food safely.
Insulated bag keeps foods at the correct temperature during a food run. Instructions on the top of the bag, reminds food runners how to handle and transport food safely.

The first 15 food assistance organizations to register for CFR’s matching Web application will receive a CFR toolkit to include:

An insulated cooler bag, thermometer and alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves, CFR food donation tracking sheets, a temperature control quick reference guide and copy of the ServSafe Employee Guide.


What if I need Spanish translation or Spanish printed materials?

Please contact Teresa Johnson asap if you need a Spanish translator for this training. We will have a limited supply of ServSafe materials in Spanish at no cost to attendee.

Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?

For registration: Cheryl Kollin, Community Food Rescue 240-491-1958 cheryl@communityfoodrescue.org

For class content: Teresa Johnson, Family Services, Inc. (301) 693-7803 teresa.johnson@fs-inc.org

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

No, we will have your name on our list

How do food businesses, food assistance organizations, and volunteer food runners sign up to participate in CFR’s Free matching Web application?

Visit CFR’s Web app page to get started.

Help harvest thousands of pounds of first-rate produce at Frist Fruits Farm. Come join the fun and help your neighbors in need!  Bring your family, friends, neighbors or co-workers!

Date: Saturday, October 10th
Time:  8:30am to approximately 11:30am or 12pm.

Where:  First Fruits Farm near Freeland, MD
Farm is about an hour north of Baltimore.

Volunteers will harvest and bag produce and help load the Manna truck.
Volunteers must be 7+ and those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult, 21 or over.
Students can earn SSL hours for this opportunity!

Click Here for details and to sign up today!  


Announcing Fall Training Schedule

If you work with a food assistance organization or if you are a volunteer food runner, sign up for one of Community Food Rescue’s FREE Safe Food Handling Trainings.

A CFR volunteer food runner delivers donated food to GaithersburgHELP
A CFR volunteer food runner delivers donated food to GaithersburgHELP

The fall trainings will be held at various locations around the County. Click on a date below to sign up.

Sept. 30 Training at Family Services Inc., Gaithersburg

Oct. 20 Training at Bethesda Green, Bethesda

Nov. 12 Training at Rainbow Community Development Center, Silver Spring

These FREE two hour trainings are intended for food rescue recipient organization staff and volunteers, and food runners who will be actively engaged in recovering unused surplus food from food businesses.  This abbreviated ServSafe training will cover 4 main areas:

  • Basic Food Safety
  • Personal Hygiene
  • Cross-Contamination prevention
  • Time & Temperature Control

Community Food Rescue food runner guidelines will be covered and each participant will leave with the knowledge needed to safely receive food from donors, transport and deliver rescued food under proper temperature controls.

Insulated bag keeps foods at the correct temperature during a food run. Instructions on the top of the bag, reminds food runners how to handle and transport food safely.
Insulated bag keeps foods at the correct temperature during a food run. Instructions on the top of the bag, reminds food runners how to handle and transport food safely.

The first 15 food assistance organizations to register for CFR’s matching Web application will receive a CFR toolkit to include:

An insulated cooler bag, thermometer and alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves, CFR food donation tracking sheets, a temperature control quick reference guide and copy of the ServSafe Employee Guide.


What if I need Spanish translation or Spanish printed materials?

Please contact Teresa Johnson asap if you need a Spanish translator for this training. We will have a limited supply of ServSafe materials in Spanish at no cost to attendee.

Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?

For registration: Cheryl Kollin, Community Food Rescue 240-491-1958 cheryl@communityfoodrescue.org

For class content: Teresa Johnson, Family Services, Inc. (301) 693-7803 teresa.johnson@fs-inc.org

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

No, we will have your name on our list

How do food businesses, food assistance organizations, and volunteer food runners sign up to participate in CFR’s Free matching Web application?

Visit CFR’s Web app page to get started.

I spy with my little eye some lofty promises around what looks like a candy bar.kelloggs-fiber

“Get 35% of your daily fiber, antioxidants Vitamin E and zinc, plus whole grains in this delicious flavor from the folks at Kellogg’s FiberPlus®. With tasty ingredients like real peanuts and peanut butter, plus a chocolatey drizzle on top and dipped in more chocolatey goodness on the bottom, these bars make nutritious snacking a real treat.”

Fights cancer!

Strengthens Bones!

Have phrases like these ever caught your eye on a box of food? A high-sodium, sugary kids’ cereal may read, “Made with whole grains! Whole grains support a healthy heart!” 

While whole grains do support a healthy heart, whole grains like plain oatmeal, brown rice, and whole wheat are healthier grain choices than a sugary cereal. A bag of chips may say “Made with canola oil! Canola oil is low in saturated fat and reduces your risk of heart disease!” Of course, you already know potato chips are not really the way to prevent disease.

WORDS TO WATCH: these phrases can be deceiving
“Promotes”,   “Improves”,   “Defends”,   “Guards against”,   “Boosts”

HEALTHY GROCERY GUIDELINES: these phrases can be helpful

Less, Low, or Reduced (sodium, sugar, or fat)

Lean (cuts of meat)

Good Source of (fiber or vitamins)
The best foods have no labels at all. Foods like fruits, vegetables, herbs, beans and fish don’t need to convince anyone what great choices they are! When shopping, stick to the perimeter of the store, away from the packaged and boxed food.

These are just some of the lessons I teach in my weekly Cooking Matters at the Store tours with Manna’s clients. We have offered this class to now over 500 residents of Montgomery County! Of course, the juiciest discussion in my classes is always What’s For Dinner.  That’s why I started Manna’s Healthy Recipe of the Month. If you would like to receive the simple recipes I collect and cook at Manna, just send me an e-mail: Lindsey@mannafood.org

Happy, Healthy New Year to You!


At Manna, I post recipes in our lobby and send out health tips in all of our closed food boxes. While I create them for clients, I’m especially tickled when volunteers and visiting donors take a recipe and tell me what a hit it was with their families.

As Manna’s Nutrition Educator, I like to think my role is to share the good news of good eating with the entire community. Those small, simple choices YOU make around food—that your kids see, your friends and neighbors see—cultivate the conversation that nourishing ourselves, and others, is essential.


Three small steps you can take today:


Eat all of your meals at the table.

Plate of vegetables
Eating while working, driving, or watching TV can lead to mindless over-eating.
Try decreasing your screen time to two hours a day. Tune in for your favorite shows and then find active hobbies you enjoy in place of watching TV. If you’re going to snack while watching your favorite show, this is a great chance to fix a plate of fresh fruit or raw veggies.

Balance out your day.


Grab a tote of apples or pears, a bag of carrots or celery. When you get back from the grocery store, chop up fruits and veggies into snack-sized strips and keep them in the front of the fridge. Or, enjoy as an edible centerpiece on your kitchen table!

Keep healthy snacks in sight.


I certainly can’t type up these yummy vegetable ideas and leave you hanging for delicious dip! Inspired by a visiting nutritionist at Manna: Combine one cup plain Greek yogurt (whole or low-fat doesn’t affect the recipe) with two tablespoons Mrs. Dash Onion & Herb seasoning. Stir and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy this healthy “ranch” dip with all your favorite veggies.
Craving more recipes? Subscribe here: Lindsey@mannafood.org

I’ve shared before how much our clients value our Cooking Matter at the Store grocery store tours. We’ve reached over 500 participants in this wonderful program, and at least once a month a client calls to share: “I really never knew that it was cheaper to buy in bulk! I’m saving on my grocery bill and cooking more at home.”

These classes allow Manna to impact the lives—and lower the grocery bills—of so many clients. Just as important are the many partnerships that form among helpers in our community. These tours bring interactive nutrition education to moms groups, teens, adults with disabilities and seniors, as well as individuals transitioning to independent living and employment.


Out of a partnership with AARP Foundation , and their donation to our program, came the opportunity to purchase translation headsets for my nutrition education workshops and classes. An interpreter uses the microphone headset and participants simply tuck transmitters into their pockets to hear my content through earphones. This allows for an uninterrupted, hands-on class with clients.

When Impact Silver Spring requested a Spanish-language store tour, I realized our new equipment made this possible!

potato-3Technology is a remarkable thing, and it’s allowing Manna’s Nutrition Education program to reach clients of all cultures in ways I didn’t imagine just a few months ago. This also means I will be holding a workshop for Rockville seniors in Mandarin next month!

A very special thank you to the many agencies who respect the value of this program, and encourage their clients to hang out with us for an hour to talk—of all things—apples and oranges. With gratitude to AARP Foundation, now we’re also talking manzanas y naranjas.

These “April showers” are certainly living up to their reputation. So far, the spring is warm, but not so much yet that our farmer’s markets are open and bursting with vibrant produce. The conventional grocery stores into which I’ve stepped lately feature piles of pineapple and citrus. Give me some veggies, too, please!

During conversations with Manna’s families, I find that most shoppers find fresh fruits and vegetables too expensive for their budget. Shopping seasonally is one budget-friendly technique, but this can be confusing at conventional stores with year-round tomatoes, apples, and peppers imported from all of the world. Thankfully, there are more places in the store to find wholesome foods.

We often forget about the wonder of the grocer’s freezer section. I’m not talking about frozen TV dinners, pizzas, and waffles. Plain frozen fruits and vegetables are a great year-round bargain when you stick to the store brand. Not to mention, this is the ultimate prepared convenience food to which a nutrition expert can offer a hearty stamp of approval. The two-pound bag of frozen broccoli, less than $2, lasts far longer than the fresh broccoli and all need not be cooked at once. This inexpensive purchase means a healthy green veggie that lasts the entire month!

I almost always have an array of frozen veggies in my own freezer: broccoli, cauliflower, edamame, corn, mixed peppers, spinach, peas, and butternut squash. Quick quesadillas, stir fries, and rice dishes are easily made more nutrient-rich by just stirring in a handful. I also love to mash frozen veggies (after roasting) for flavorful soups and lasagnas.
Consider frozen fruit, too! Berries, mango, and pineapple are longer-lasting and require less chopping than their out-of-season siblings in the fresh departments. I love to add these to whole wheat pancake batter, smoothies, yogurt, and oatmeal–most do not even require thawing.

If you are passionate about good food, and have a interest in helping Manna’s clients learn how to shop healthy on a budget, write me! Lindsey@mannafood.org

Happy, healthy shopping!

June rounds out another series of Cooking Matters at the Store tours–that’s 200 Manna clients attending in-store nutrition classes in just three months! While I’ve shared some exciting updates about our bi-lingual store tours, we’ve begun an additional class format that allows us to reach even further into the marginalized area of our community.

“Pop-Up tours” allow me to bring the grocery store to residents who are disabled, or otherwise unable to access public transportation. My special teaching box contains packages of breakfast foods, cans of fruits and vegetables, nutrition labels and ingredient lists for common products at the store. In just two weeks, 97 community members attended pop-up tours at Holiday Park Senior Center (Silver Spring), The Jefferson House (Rockville), and Rehabilitation Opportunities Inc. (Germantown).

Here is the question I hear the most: “What can I have for breakfast?” Many participants share their doctor’s advice to reduce sugar intake, but that can feel unachievable given the usual sweet ritual of cereal and juice to start the day.

My response: who says breakfast has to be sweet? For individuals living with diabetes or prediabetes, or for those just looking for a healthier breakfast routine, check out these savory inspirations (with links to their recipes):

  1. Smashed avocado toast & veggies
  2. Veggie breakfast tacos
  3. Breakfast burritos
  4. Breakfast pita pizza
  5. Mexican breakfast pasta
  6. Southwest sweet potato breakfast hash
  7. Ham and veggie breakfast hash
  8. Southwest scramble
  9. Savory oatmeal
  10. Red velvet smoothie


In my house, we even create savory breakfast menus for dinner when we’re low on ideas or our budget. Just last week, my sweet potato, zucchini, carrot & chive pancakes were an indulgent-tasting treat we enjoyed for dinner and again for breakfast the next morning. Give one of these savory dishes a try, and open your mind to the new possibilities of breakfast.


If you missed the first culinary battle, the competitors (and generous partners) will be at it again on Sunday, September 27 making delicious, spontaneous creations out of local foods supplied by our favorite Clarksburg Farm vendors: Scenic View Orchards, Valencia’s Produce, and Abundant Grace Farm.  Come watch the fun, taste the food, and vote for the winner!



This farmers market week, be sure to support the markets that support Manna Food Center: Central Farm Markets, Olney Farm and Artisan Market, City of Rockville Market, and Clarksburg Farmers Market.  Last month, these markets and the their generous vendors combined to provide over 20,000 pounds of fresh, regional produce to Montgomery County families served by Manna.

by Lindsey Seegers




Manna is the coordinator of Community Food Rescue, a network designed to feed more and waste less, in Montgomery County.  Read about the latest round of mini-grants awarded to build the capacity of local partners to fill bellies, not landfills.

See more here: http://communityfoodrescue.org/blog/

Join us on November 3rd for the biggest food drive you’ve ever seen!

Join us on November 3rd for the biggest food drive you’ve ever seen!

In honor of Farmers Market week we are remembering the epic battle between Manna’s Nutrition Education team and Whole Foods Market’s Chef Charlie at the Clarksburg Farmers Market’s Inaugural “Chopped” Challenge.


If you missed the first culinary battle, the competitors (and generous partners) will be at it again on Sunday, September 27 making delicious, spontaneous creations out of local foods supplied by our favorite Clarksburg Farm vendors: Scenic View Orchards, Valencia’s Produce, and Abundant Grace Farm.  Come watch the fun, taste the food, and vote for the winner!



This farmers market week, be sure to support the markets that support Manna Food Center: Central Farm Markets, Olney Farm and Artisan Market, City of Rockville Market, and Clarksburg Farmers Market.  Last month, these markets and the their generous vendors combined to provide over 20,000 pounds of fresh, regional produce to Montgomery County families served by Manna.


At Manna, I post recipes in our lobby and send out health tips in all of our closed food boxes. While I create them for clients, I’m especially tickled when volunteers and visiting donors take a recipe and tell me what a hit it was with their families.

As Manna’s Nutrition Educator, I like to think my role is to share the good news of good eating with the entire community. Those small, simple choices YOU make around food—that your kids see, your friends and neighbors see—cultivate the conversation that nourishing ourselves, and others, is essential.


Three small steps you can take today:


Eat all of your meals at the table.

Plate of vegetables
Eating while working, driving, or watching TV can lead to mindless over-eating.
Try decreasing your screen time to two hours a day. Tune in for your favorite shows and then find active hobbies you enjoy in place of watching TV. If you’re going to snack while watching your favorite show, this is a great chance to fix a plate of fresh fruit or raw veggies.

Balance out your day.

Grab a tote of apples or pears, a bag of carrots or celery. When you get back from the grocery store, chop up fruits and veggies into snack-sized strips and keep them in the front of the fridge. Or, enjoy as an edible centerpiece on your kitchen table!

Keep healthy snacks in sight.

I certainly can’t type up these yummy vegetable ideas and leave you hanging for delicious dip! Inspired by a visiting nutritionist at Manna: Combine one cup plain Greek yogurt (whole or low-fat doesn’t affect the recipe) with two tablespoons Mrs. Dash Onion & Herb seasoning. Stir and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy this healthy “ranch” dip with all your favorite veggies.

Craving more recipes? Subscribe here: Lindsey@mannafood.org