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WHEATON – Manna Food Center CEO Jackie DeCarlo said she expected Manna’s food collection this year would draw a heavier turnout than previous MLK-Weekend collections.
“Typically, we are able to give people about 50 pounds of food, and we’d like to maintain that standard,” DeCarlo said the Giant grocery in Wheaton on Jan. 19. “So, this is why we’re really encouraging shoppers today when they come, [today] and tomorrow, to put a little extra [food] in their baskets, so we can maintain the same level of service for anybody, no matter why they’re turning to us.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) entered the grocery store carrying a bag with boxes of oatmeal to donate to the Manna Food collection Saturday.
It was not Van Hollen’s first time visiting a Manna Food collection– nor was it his first time with the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day collection. However, he said the need for the collection was greater this year because of the government shutdown.
“It’s important that we support Manna’s effort and the effort of others in our community who always open their doors to people in need,” Van Hollen said. “We have a special need now because a lot of people are hurting because of the government shutdown.”
He joined the four Manna volunteers in handing out lists of suggested grocery items that Manna is collecting.
Van Hollen said he learned from talking to furloughed employees that there’s an issue of shame for people who are members of the federal workforce and are not used to going to organizations such as Manna to ask for food because they can’t afford it.
DeCarlo said some of the newer visitors to Manna, due to the shutdown, shared similar sentiments to what Van Hollen described.
“We had a couple who are both of them are federal employees,” DeCarlo said. “They have a son with special needs. They said it was kind of hard to get over that hurdle of shame [of asking for food], but they had to do what was right for their family, and that’s why we were, you know, so happy to be able to give them locations throughout the county where they can turn, and come inside and get the food that they need.”
Manna is temporarily lifting some of its income restrictions during the time of the shutdown, said DeCarlo.
Anyone who needs food because they can’t afford it, including people financially burdened by the shutdown, may call Manna Food Center at 301-424-1130 to find out where they can pick up a bag of food, spokesperson Michelle Whittaker said.