Volunteers Help Montgomery County Address Crisis of Food Insecurity

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Volunteers are helping Montgomery County, Maryland, cope with a crisis of food insecurity due to loss of income because of the coronavirus pandemic.

When asked to help with an effort of unprecedented size and scope, Montgomery County residents responded.

At a Sikh spiritual center in North Potomac that’s not using its commercial kitchen due to restrictions on large gatherings, volunteers pack bags of beans and rice.

“Sikh place of worship is a known place to have free food for anyone,” said Rajwant Singh of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation. “We feel that the faith communities and the government need to work together to serve those who are in need.”

Small Things Matter, a Takoma Park nonprofit stepped up and tripled the number of families to whom it distributes food, aided by a small army of teenage volunteers.

“They provided a lot of the manpower to do the packing, and we also had students making casseroles and baking goods to supplement the food,” Roxanne Yamashita said.

“When we see someone in need or there’s a need out there, a person should get up and do something about it,” John Anderson said.

In March, Patrick Campbell of Montgomery County Emergency Management was given the job of coordinating it all. 

He said some of the greatest successes come from volunteers willing to reach out to people who need food but who are reluctant to take help from the government. EveryMind, a mental health coalition, helped reach out to veterans.

“Not only did they just make the contact, they said, ‘Hey, we can take the food and deliver it for you,’” Campbell

said. “And so we get them the food, and they’re able to bring it that last mile, build that relationship and make sure we get the services to them.”

To help, visit the Montgomery County Volunteer Center.

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