Monthly Update 3.18.2023: Appreciation for our 120 Monthly Volunteers

Dear Takoma Park and Silver Spring families and friends,

I recently wrote to you that starting March 1, about 600,000 Maryland families would see a cut to their food budget because of cuts to the emergency food benefits in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)¸ previously known as food stamps.

Now we know just how desperate the situation is for so many! We need your financial support to meet this crisis.

Our distribution on March 4th was the first distribution after the cuts. While we anticipated an increase in the number of families needing assistance, what we experienced on that Saturday was shocking, distressing and unconscionable in modern day America and especially Montgomery County.

If there was any doubt that the removal of added pandemic funds provided by SNAP would cause an increase in people we serve in our community, Saturday morning provided shocking clarity. We have never had a line of cars as long as we did on Saturday. We turned away at least 25 cars, most with more than one family in them. 

For those of you familiar with our location, traffic was backed up all the way down Silver Spring Avenue to Piney Branch Avenue.  We had to start the distribution at 7:00 am just to move cars so a city bus could get through. We were completely out of boxes by 7:40 am. 

I want to personally thank all the Saturday volunteers who helped manage traffic control and deal with the onslaught of cars. We are so lucky to have so many wonderful volunteers. 

One of the worst parts of this work is turning away people in need.  I can tell you from my own experience, it is soul crushing.

Please make a contribution today and be as generous as you can.  We at Tommy’s Pantry are trying to make adjustments to meet this increased demand, but we cannot do it with our current budget, without increased support from the community. 

Many thanks to those of you who responded to our March 1 appeal.  We hope others will also respond to this crisis with a donation.

For more information on this issue, please visit our website


Wendy Kent, President


  • Through our partnership with CAFB, Tommy’s Pantry has been able to secure monthly deliveries of 320 boxes of assorted fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce is now available at all of our Saturday food distributions. Check the News page on our website for real-time produce updates. 

Smart Sacks

  • We continue to deliver 80 bags of shelf-stable food per week to our neighbors across the street at East Silver Spring Elementary School as part of  Manna Food Center’s  “Smart Sacks” program. Smart Sacks provides bags of shelf stable food to children for the weekend, when they don’t receive school meals. We pick up the food from Manna, pack the items into bags, and deliver to the school. We thank Manna Food Center for including us in this incredibly important service they provide throughout Montgomery County.

Volunteer Update

  • NEW April dates are available to sign up to volunteer! Visit the Tommy’s Pantry Sign Up page to volunteer to help alleviate food insecurity in our community. Students can earn SSL hours. You can also inquire about group volunteer bookings and on-site corporate volunteer events (NEW!) by emailing Sarah at Ages 11 and up. Age minimum does not apply to group bookings.
  • Did you see our volunteer infographic at the top of this newsletter? Tommy’s Pantry needs 120 volunteers per month, including newly added traffic control help. No heavy lifting required and it’s a great opportunity for early risers. Please consider signing up today. 

Tommy’s Pantry News & Social Media

  • The Tommy’s Pantry website features a News tab, where you can stay up-to-date with our latest newsletters, donation drives, and events. You can also follow us on Instagram (@tommyspantrytkpk) and Twitter (@tommyspantry) to get the latest updates and photos from our packing and distribution events.

Fundraising Corner

  • Tommy’s Pantry will host a Pet Food & Supply Drive on Saturday, April 29th from 2-4 pm at the Takoma Park dog park. All items collected will benefit the Humane Rescue Alliance. More details can be found on the News page of our website.
  • Mark your calendars! Spring Fling, our Tommy’s Pantry Spring Fundraiser, is coming Sunday, April 30. Our gracious thanks to Diana and Bill Conway, who have offered to host this new event at their beautiful home. Please check soon for additional details.
  • Tommy’s Pantry is 100% volunteer run.  Your financial support is crucial to keeping food and wellness boxes flowing into the hands of those in need,
  • Tommy’s Pantry is registered with Fidelity Charitable, so if you have a giving account with Fidelity Charitable, you can elect Tommy’s Pantry as a donation recipient. 

Receive Assistance with Food & Wellness Items

  • Family health/wellness and cleaning supplies and fresh fruits and vegetables will be distributed on Saturday, April 1st, at 7:30 am while supplies last. Available at the back of Church of the Ascension, across the street from East Silver Spring Elementary (630 Silver Spring Ave, Silver Spring, MD). Walk-ups, please email in advance.
  • Boxes of shelf-stable food and fresh fruits and vegetables will be offered on Saturday, April 15th, at 7:30 am while supplies last. Available at the back of Church of the Ascension, across the street from East Silver Spring Elementary (630 Silver Spring Ave, Silver Spring, MD). Walk-ups, please email in advance.
  • For the 2022-2023 school year, breakfast, lunch, and dinner will no longer be free for all MCPS students.  Funds can be added to student lunch accounts using MySchoolBucks  or payments can be made directly to the cafeteria using cash or a check. Families that qualify for any level of Free and Reduced Meals (FARMS) support will still receive FREE meals.  Apply online at .

Thank you so much for supporting this important community initiative.

Wendy Kent
Tommy’s Pantry President

Sarah Goupell
Tommy’s Pantry Vice President

Kathleen Bartels
Tommy’s Pantry Treasurer

Sasha Johnson
Tommy’s Pantry Secretary 

Paula Kowalczuk
Tommy’s Pantry Board Member, Chair of Fundraising Committee

Hannah Raskin
Tommy’s Pantry Board Member, At-large

Adrienne Tilton
Tommy’s Pantry Board Member, At-large

Tommy’s Pantry collaborates with PTA leaders, school counselors, administration and ESOL teachers from each of our schools, Blair school counselors, the City of Takoma Park, and county social workers. With the help of all of these people and organizations, we have quick and direct contact with families who need help. Rest assured that we are reaching far into the community – all across Takoma Park and the folks from the East Silver Spring neighborhood.