Tommy’s Pantry Monthly Update 2.18.2023: Bridging the SNAP gap with increased service, bi-monthly produce, Smart Sacks, & more

Dear Takoma Park and Silver Spring families and friends,

In our last newsletter, Tommy’s Pantry reported that we’ll be distributing 320 boxes of produce twice a month, beginning with our Saturday, February 18th distribution. This influx of fresh food for all of the families we serve at each of our Saturday distributions could not be better timed. Tommy’s Pantry Vice President Sarah Goupell and I recently attended the virtual “Hunger Cliff” event hosted by TPSS Co-op, which highlighted how pandemic food stamp benefits (through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP) are ending this month. 

Some families will see their benefits nearly cut in half, and we expect the demand for local food assistance to rise. You can read more about the effects of the end of the emergency allotments in a recent report. It warms our hearts to know that we will be able to provide a little bit more in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables, and that we can count on the volunteer and donor support of our generous community to help bridge the gap created by this benefits cut.  


Wendy Kent, President

NOW Serving More to More Families

  • Thanks to your financial and volunteer support, we’ve done it – we have increased what we can provide! Beginning with our February 4th wellness box distribution, we are now serving 24 more families per month with our in-demand health and hygiene items. And that’s not all! We received a generous produce grant from Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB), and our Tommy’s Pantry volunteers are rising to the challenge of getting those 640 boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables into the hands of our recipient families each month. Thank you! Please continue to show your support so we can keep meeting increased demand!


  • Through our partnership with CAFB, Tommy’s Pantry has been able to secure twice monthly deliveries of 320 boxes of assorted fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce will now be available at all of our Saturday distributions, beginning on February 18th at 7:30 am. We plan to continue this offering on the first and third Saturdays of the month throughout the rest of the year. Check the News page on our website for real-time produce updates. 

Smart Sacks

  • We’re excited to announce Manna Food Center has asked Tommy’s Pantry to partner with them to bring “Smart Sacks” to our neighbors across the street, East Silver Spring Elementary School. Smart Sacks is a program to provide 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 started on January 4th with 50 bags, increased to 65 the following week and are now delivering 80 bags per week. We thank Manna Food Center for including us in this incredibly important service they provide throughout Montgomery County.

Volunteer Update

  • NEW March dates are available to sign up to volunteer! Visit the NEW 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.
  • Our distributions now require TWICE as much volunteer power, so that we can give fresh produce to our recipient families. Please consider signing up today. It’s an early start, but a rewarding use of your early morning hours.

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 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

  • Boxes of shelf-stable food and fresh fruits and vegetables will be offered on Saturday, February 18th, 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.
  • Family health/wellness and cleaning supplies and fresh fruits and vegetables will be distributed on Saturday, March 4th, 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.