Last month, Shepherd’s Table launched a pilot program called “Beyond the Table” that brought our prepared meals to other communities in need outside of Downtown Silver Spring.
The idea for the program came out of an identified need for prepared meals in communities hit hard by COVID-19 and unemployment due to the pandemic. In Montgomery County, we identified Aspen Hill as the greatest area of need, based on Census data and COVID-19 infection rates. Partnering with CASA of Maryland and the Office of Councilmember Evan Glass, we formulated a plan to get the meals to North Gate Local Park. With the support of the Executive Committee, we launched this pilot program as an expansion of what we do best: provide nutritious meals. We rented a van, purchased a tent, secured the right permits and licenses, and our Chefs prepared extra meals 3 times a week for this special meal distribution.
Between June 15th to July 3rd, our team handed out a total of 971 free prepared meals at North Gate Local Park, Aspen Hill. We were there every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, providing meals and face masks for individuals and families in need. Our Lead Chef, Keith White shared, “We saw a significant need in this community. The number of women and especially children was much higher than the community we serve at Progress Place. It’s been an honor and privilege to serve this community.”
During our last week of the program, the week of July 6th, we served meals at three different sites in Prince George’s County: 2 locations in Riverdale and 1 in New Carrollton. With the support and partnership of the Office of Councilmember Dannielle Glaros, we served over 200 meals per day. This was our first time serving outside of Montgomery County, and we were received very well.
At Tanglewood Park in Riverdale, we served 274 meals- a new record for Shepherd’s Table. As we served prepared meals, a team from Christian Life Center was providing boxes of fresh produce, which helped create a greater level of enthusiasm from meal guests and volunteers alike. At Parkview Gardens Apartments, we served 225 meals, which was another high number. The last day, we served 210 meals in New Carrollton to a very grateful community.
Manny shared that, “[. . .] “Beyond the Table” is Shepherd’s Table’s answer to reducing food insecurity in neighborhoods outside of Silver Spring. It will allow us to reach a population that isn’t homeless but still dealing with hunger and crippling poverty.” He also shared that “Beyond the Table” has the potential to grow and become a part of Shepherd’s Table’s main programs.