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Helping Our Neighbors in Silver Spring

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One of Buddhist Relief’s newest partners is The First Baptist Church of Silver Spring. It has a modest food pantry that serves what some refer to as the “food desert” of Montgomery County and has operated since 1983. The church hosts three different congregations – English, Hispanic, and Creole, advertising at cultural centers in the area.

The pantry is open on Saturdays from 10 – noon and serves anyone who comes. Everyone gets 2 large bags of groceries that are a mixture of canned meats, grains, veggies, condiments (when available), cereal, and other non-perishable food. They serve 40-60 families weekly.

90% of their food comes from the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB). For a smaller operation such as theirs, that comes with challenges. They have to order from a menu that has about 40 items on it at any given time, they have to order a large quantity of any given item, and they must order 1000 pounds at a time. There are many sought after  items that they cannot get.

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Two of our volunteers were able to visit the pantry a few weeks ago. Because the pantry was short staffed that day, Claire and Noreen were also able to help Todd pack bags for the families. While packing, they saw empty shelves of not just food items, but things that add flavor and a taste of home to a meal. For example, there was only one jar of mayonnaise, 1 bottle of ketchup, and 1 bottle of mustard available. These items are definitely a niche that could be filled by Buddhist Relief.

A few days later, Buddhist Relief was able to make a delivery containing about 150 pounds of non-perishables including cases of Sriracha, mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, salad dressing, pasta, pasta sauce, canned tuna, canned hams, canned pinto beans, peanut butter and jelly,  and lots of bread.

These pantry items and the meals they create are not only nourishing the body, but the entire person. While packing bags that day, one of the church’s volunteers told a story of an incident that happened 40 years ago when he himself needed help and  a man shared a meal with him. Todd said, “Well, that food is long gone, it’s no longer part of my body, not part of me at all. But that kindness, that experience, the nurturing became a part of me, part of my memory and who I am, and stays with me still.”

“Won’t you help those families struggling every day to put food on the table?

We must continue to make every day special for all of those in need.