The holiday season is usually Manna Food Center’s busiest time of year, but in the days before Thanksgiving, the Gaithersburg nonprofit saw more clients than expected.
Jackie DeCarlo, executive director of the county’s main food bank, said her staff typically serves from 185 to 200 households daily, but right before the holiday, those numbers soared. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Manna helped 410, 487 and 533 households respectively, according to DeCarlo.
“We had anticipated a steady uptick because of the holiday, but it was quite a bit more than past Thanksgivings. As far as we have records, that’s a high point for us,” she said. “We attributed that to the sluggish economic recovery and the reduction in food stamps.”
Manna distributed Thanksgiving food boxes to clients at the center, at Catholic Charities and in a local low-income housing complex.
Each eligible household, meaning one that meets income requirements and resides in Montgomery County, can receive a three- to five-day allotment of supplemental emergency food every 30 days, DeCarlo said. Clients must also bring a referral every time they come to pick up food.
Two boxes of food are given to every household, according to DeCarlo. One has nonperishable items such as canned food, rice and pasta, while the other box has a variety of special foods that can include items such as fresh produce and frozen meats.
“We really do want to eliminate hunger,” DeCarlo said. “One of the ways we’re going to be successful is by collaborating with other agencies. We want to make sure the vulnerable and suffering have their needs met.”