The myth that hunger did not exist in affluent Silver Spring was debunked on December 16, 1983 with the opening of Shepherd’s Table. Even in Montgomery County, one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, homelessness and hunger need to be addressed. Silver Spring HELP, an all-volunteer, nonprofit, grassroots organization for the homeless, initiated a solution to the problem.
Shepherd’s Table began as a soup kitchen in a small Cape Cod bungalow behind First Baptist Church of Silver Spring. This was made possible through the joint effort of 33 local religious congregations. Community opposition was met by vocal supporters who pointed out that ignoring homelessness and hunger did not make them disappear. Over time, citizen support grew to include donations of time, meals and kitchen equipment. Health, nutrition, and security professionals educated the volunteers, and physicians, nurses, and mental health counselors provided their services.
The first volunteers to serve at Shepherd’s Table were congregants from St. Luke’s Lutheran Church who fed seven guests. By June 1984, the program averaged 1,500 dinner guests a month. Within a year, services expanded to include distribution of free clothing, laundry and shower facilities, a medical clinic, social services, counseling, drug and alcohol addiction treatment, mental health therapy, referral to shelters and other professional services.
In 1985 Shepherd’s Table became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Shepherd’s Table Today: 1996 – Present
In 1996, the Montgomery County government moved Shepherd’s Table from its cramped quarters to a newly renovated multipurpose community center called Progress Place. The property was offered rent-free. Additionally, Shepherd's Table has never missed a meal since opening its doors almost 30 years ago and we are committed to making sure we never do.