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Thousands of county residents volunteer for MLK day of service

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BETHESDA — On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, thousands of people came out to do volunteer work at locations throughout Montgomery County. About 2,000 people attended the event at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel, where there were booths for various volunteer activities such as packaging food, crocheting blanket squares, and making bracelets.

Coordinated by the Montgomery County Volunteer Center, the Martin Luther King Jr. “day of service” has been conducted every year since the 1990s for people to volunteer in remembrance of Dr. King.

“It’s ingrained in the national culture that Martin Luther King Day is a day of service, so people are looking for ways they can help locally,” said Volunteer Center Director Molly Callaway.

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Manna Food Center further extends helping hand

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MP1 0845Ingred Perez volunteers to help a customer at Manna.  PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  

GAITHERSBURG – Manna Food Center is opening its 25th food pantry in Montgomery County Nov. 12.

The new site, which will be located at Silver Spring United Methodist Church along University Boulevard, will be Manna’s second location to allow those in need to choose the foods their families want.

“It’s in the eastern part of the county. There is a big need there,” said Jenna Umbriac, Manna’s director of programs.

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Council determines method to fight local hunger problem

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ROCKVILLE – Hoping to get the County’s food banks and charities on the same page, the Montgomery County Council passed a bill that would require the County Executive to develop a single plan to fight hunger in the County.

The bill calls for the County Executive to develop a five-year plan to reduce hunger by 10 percent each year, a goal that the bill’s lead sponsor Roger Berliner (D-1) previously said was to serve as a guideline. 

Berliner said the bill’s aim is to coordinate efforts between the county’s agencies and charities to provide meals to the about 78,000 people in the County that do not know where their next meal is coming from.

The County Executive has until Dec. 1 to finalize his plan.

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County Council mulls plans to reduce hunger

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ROCKVILLE – Two years ago, Andy Burness volunteered with the Food Recovery Network to drop off food to a local women’s shelter.

Burness and the group of volunteers arrived with 25 large plastic bins full of food to drop off, but upon arrival, there were already six full bins of food sitting on the kitchen counter.

“We didn’t know what to do,” said Burness, chair of Montgomery County Security Collaborative. “How can you bring fresh delicious food to a shelter and take it back? But conversely, how can you leave that food for the women in the shelter knowing most of it will go to waste?”

On Tuesday, the Montgomery County Council heard testimony on Bill 19-16, which proposes the County develop a five-year plan by Dec. 1 to tackle food insecurity. The Health and Human Services committee will review the bill June 23.

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