SILVER SPRING, Md.– East County Center’s newest addition, Manna Food Center, celebrated its grand opening this past Saturday.
The event featured a variety of vendors, food, and games for the kids, along with tours of the grocery-store-style pantry.
“We’re just going to use this center as a way to get [East County] the attention it deserves and bring people together like we’re bringing them together today,” said Manna Food Center’s CEO, Jackie DeCarlo.
The new center aims to give people who experience hunger the dignity of choosing their own food.
Senator Chris Van Hollen was one of the speakers at the event.
“We need massive reform to the overall federal food programs and our food system,” he told the crowd.
Van Hollen also spoke about the EFAP (Emergency Food Assistance Program), which is a federal program that helps supply food to Manna.
Van Hollen shared his commitment to making sure EFAP “continues to get the funding and support it needs” to continue to help people who benefit from its assistance.
Manna’s impact reaches more than just those who are food insecure. Through volunteering at Manna, Jane Coe was able to bring together long-lost friends Esther Delaplaine and Blanche Hall.
Delaplaine and Hall were childhood friends that had lost touch. Coe, a friend of Delaplaine, made the connection that Hall was the old friend whom Delaplaine remembered so fondly and promptly got the two back in touch.
At 96, Delapaine said she was happy to have her friend back.
For more information about Manna Food Center and Saturday’s Block Party, email Michelle Whittaker at email@example.com or call Whittaker at 240-268-2548.
Jane Coe (Left) and Esther Delaplaine make their way to the Manna Bus. Photo by Casey Fair.
Jemina Huang and her son James play at the bubble station. Photo by Casey Fair.
Visitors learn how recipients can pick the food they want to cook and eat in the Manna Food Center. Photo by Casey Fair.
Jackie DeCarlo and Senator Chris Van Hollen holding a certificate of special recognition from the House of Representative and a celebratory citation from the Senate respectively. Photo by Casey Fair.