Summer Edition - June 2019
What Goes into a Week at the Pantry
Every Monday a person/couple/family/team from our Monday Shelving rotation goes to the pantry to shelve all the food that was collected at weekend Masses.
On the first Monday of the month, a group of First Monday volunteers goes to the pantry to meet a group from St Elizabeth’s, who come bringing several carloads full of food that they so generously collect for us. The food is unloaded, hauled down to the pantry and shelved.
On Thursday, a team from our Thursday Shopping rotation goes either to the Capital Area Food Bank or to Shop Rite to collect a food order. They deliver it to St Camillus, where a team from our Thursday Afternoon Unloading/Shelving rotation is waiting to unload and shelve it. They make sure that the pantry is fully stocked and ready for Friday’s distribution, that chairs are set up in the Registration Room, and that things are otherwise ready for business. Being able to lift 10-20 pounds is ideal for this work. (*Volunteer spots are open*)
Later on Thursday, at around 9:40pm or between 6 and 8:30 Friday morning someone does a "Bread Run" to the Panera Bread in Bethesda to pick up the leftover baked goods (from Thursday’s business hours). They are taken to the pantry or handed off to another volunteer who will take them to St Camillus in time for the Friday afternoon pantry hours. (*Volunteer spots are open*)**
On Friday from 1:30-2:30 three people from our pool of Friday Pre-Shift volunteers go to the pantry to sort and bag any produce that will be distributed at the pantry that weekend as well as baked goods donations from Panera. They bag rice and/or beans if necessary and get the pantry ready to open. (*1-2 Volunteer spots are open*)
At 2:30 a new crew arrives to relieve the Pre-Shift crew. This four-five person Bagging and Distribution team finishes prepping the pantry for opening and will fill bins and bags to put food in the hands of our clients. This work lasts until 5pm.
Working just down the hall and around the corner, three Registration Room volunteers work the same 2:30-5:00 afternoon shift. They get our clients registered, so their visit can be logged in our database and they can receive food. Comfort on a computer and bilingual English/Spanish skills are very helpful for this work. (*2-3 Volunteer spots are open*)
Around 9:40 Friday night or between 6 and 8:30 am Saturday morning, a volunteer does a Bread Run to the Panera Bread in Bethesda again to pick up Friday’s leftover baked goods. They are taken to the pantry or handed off to another volunteer who will take them in time for the Saturday morning pantry hours. (* Volunteer spots are open*)
On Saturday morning from 9:30-12noon, the pantry is once again open for business. Two people from our Bagging and Distribution volunteer pool work with volunteers from Cristo Joven or Teatro to get food to our clients, while three bilingual Registration Room volunteers get them registered. (*Volunteer spots are open for both Bagging and Distribution AND work in the Registration Room*)
After the pantry closes, shelves are inventoried and a food order is placed with the Capital Area Food Bank or Shop Rite.
On Monday the process starts again.
If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering at the pantry, please email
**If someone who lives in Bethesda and works at the FDA is interested in helping with the Panera runs and could do the pick up, a pantry volunteer could meet you for a hand-off at the FDA in the morning.
Volunteer Spotlight – A Sister Act
Nicole Severin, who works for the federal government as a contractor, started working at the food pantry in the early months of 2012. She was our very first French-speaking registration volunteer, and we realized very quickly that she was providing a much needed service. She was referred to the food pantry by Carole Coaxum, who is an active member in the St Camillus community.
It wasn’t long before Nicole started getting other family members involved. She initially started out bringing her oldest child to the pantry when he was in high school and needed service hours. In time, her other two children also volunteered at the food pantry. (Her daughter even organized a food drive at her school to benefit the pantry!) She says it was a good experience for them. But in the summer of 2014, Nicole brought her sister Guilaine on board as a regular pantry volunteer!
Guilaine works full time in DC and volunteers at the pantry once a month. She too is a French-speaker, so Nicole and Guilaine are a bit of a tag team, very seldom working together, but instead splitting up to provide good coverage on Saturday mornings for our French-speaking clients.
When asked why she enjoys volunteering at the pantry, Guilaine says, “I enjoy it because I feel I'm helping the people who really need my help. It's a pleasure for me.”
Echoing much of the same sentiment, Nicole says, “I enjoy working at the pantry because it keeps me active in the community, serving the community where I live.
And I enjoy being able to communicate with people who really appreciate the service that the pantry provides. And I'm happy that my sister works at the pantry as well.”
Thank you, ladies, for years and years of dedicated service to families who depend on us for help!
Current volunteers spreading the word among family and friends about their volunteer work with the pantry is how we get most of our new recruits – and is exactly how we ended up with a Sister Act in our Registration Room.
Food Pantry Facts and Figures
More than 4000 volunteer hours yearly, donated by 150 dedicated volunteers, ensure that the pantry is clean, stocked and ready, and open each weekend to distribute food to our sisters and brothers in need.
9000 emergency food packages, more than 200,000 pounds of food, were distributed in 2018. The majority of food that is purchased comes from the Capital Area Food Bank.
Food purchase is funded by Montgomery County Government and Community Foundations grants, faith communities, and individual donations and bequests. In 2018 the pantry was awarded $30,500 in grant funding.
Donations of food come from faith communities, schools, businesses, the Archdiocese Lenten Food Drive, and many generous individuals.
The pantry is managed by a leadership team. Please contact members by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your message will be forwarded to the appropriate team member.
Thursday Shoppers and Shelvers - Patty Kolar
Special Collections - Cheryl Nichols
Onsite Management - Bernie Relf and Joyce Romanus
Ordering Food - Joyce Romanus
Technology and Communications - ShaAvhree Buckman Garner
Data Management - Vincent Lu
CAFB Liaison, Finances, Liaison with Friars - Kris Leary
Grants - Joan Conway and Kris Leary
Book Distribution - Jude Cassidy
Continuing To Serve
Langley Park Pantry Closes
We have made the difficult decision to close the Langley Park pantry. We served clients for the last time on Saturday, June 15. All of us involved in the operation in Langley Park continue to reflect with gratitude on the abundant blessings we have received together these last 11 years. The decision to close is based on the limitation of human resources and lack of a permanent place to house the work of the pantry. Thank you to all who supported the effort in Langley Park all these years!
Thank you to our loyal friends at St Elizabeth parish. On the first Sunday of every month they collect food to stock the shelves of our pantry. In June they brought 118 bags of groceries bringing the total collected so far this year to 1,151 bags. Wow!
THANK YOU to the Peace and Social Concerns Committee of Adelphi Friends Meeting for awarding the pantry the Living Peace Grant in the amount of $3500 earlier this year. We will make sure your generous gift goes far!
Thanks also to Holy Redeemer Kensington for their recent food donation as well as their continued support of the pantry throughout the year!
Lenten Food Drive
A big THANKS to the parishioners and students of St John the Baptist parish and school. They brought us carloads of food, that they gathered and painstakingly sorted.
St Elizabeth's ALSO brought us all the food they collected the weekend of the annual Lenten Food Drive and still brought us their monthly collection just a week later!
Thank you to the parishioners of St Camillus as well, as they not only donated 200 bags of food, but many adults and young people helped carry the food over from the church to the pantry. Thanks, too, to the many hands that helped shelve all that food!